|This website is dedicated to
the raising of awareness of the
Plight of our Veterans trying to
get help through the VA
system! And to educate the
American Public to the
existence of the Vet Center
program with the intent of
procuring additional funding to
Save Our Veterans!!!
|Write your Congressman!
Feel free to copy this letter to Congressman Henry Brown
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health
House Committee of Veterans Affairs
February 3, 2006
To the Honorable Henry E. Brown
Fax 4 pages to # 202-225-3407
February 3, 2006
Dear Congressman Brown,
As Chairman of the Subcommittee of Health, House Committee of Veterans Affairs, you are in the unique
position of helping to guiding the U.S. House of Representatives in their mission to provide the best
Health care financially possible for our Veterans. Both the House of Representatives and the US Senate
have joined together showing bipartisan support in this mission by unanimously passing the VA budget in
Bill H.R. 2528. As a part of this Bill, you were able to fence an unprecedented $2.2 Billion for Specialty
Mental Health Care (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) trying to insure that this funding can not be
siphoned off for other purposes during the year! We thank you for that! By your guidance and vote, it is
obvious that you are trying to recognize and care for our Veterans at this crucial time.
Now that the funding has been put aside for the care and treatment of PTSD, the task is to determine the
best and most effective use for this money. We are asking you to again, lead that Bipartisan support by
joining the U.S. Senate’s unanimous vote passing Bill S. 716 RFH, THE VET CENTER ENHANCEMENT ACT
OF 2005. This is the best way to ensure that our Veterans and their families get the best Mental Health
Care that exists today.
The Vet Center program is the only proven program with a charted record of success within the VA
system in effective outreach and readjustment counseling services. It has the full support of the American
Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The Vietnam
Veterans of America, The Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMVETS as well as the Iraq War Veterans
Organization, the Woman’s Army Corp Veterans Association (WACVA), and hundreds of thousands of
Veterans and their families. Clearly, the Vet Center Program has earned their reputation as the most
effective program existing today capable of reaching the vast majority of Veterans needing care! Fencing
the $180 Million for the Vet Center Program, as clarified in Bill S.716 will help insure they have the staff
necessary to do this critical work.
In an intense conversation with Jeffrey Weekly, the Senior Staffer of your Subcommittee, he made it
painfully clear that your Committee is going to oppose the passage of this Bill. The reasoning is that the
Vet Center Program must not be effective as Benefit payments for PTSD keep going up. He stated that the
Subcommittee is insisting that additional studies are needed before they will support ANY expansion of
the Vet Center Program! Even though he agreed with most of what I said, even stating that this war will
leave more Veterans severely affected with PTSD from any other conflict since Vietnam and that early
intervention was critical, he was unshakable in the belief that this Bill is not needed and the Committee
will not support it!
We would like to counter this opinion by saying that the success of the Vet Center Program is NOT
reflective of benefit payments for PTSD. Their effectiveness is they’re ability to find and provide
readjustment counseling services to combat Veterans and their families. A success within the Vet Center
Program is when they save a life by preventing a suicide, or save a family through individual, couples
counseling and spousal support groups; or finding a job for a Veteran through job fairs and informational
program's like “How to write a successful résumé”; or helping to divert a foreclosure proceeding on a
home through sponsoring financial seminars. These are the kind of activities that are going on at Vet
Centers all around the country every day! And these success stories are the ones that count!!!
Secondly, we disagree with the opinion that you have to have a charted cure for PTSD and a plan to enact
that cure, before the Subcommittee can support allocating any money already fenced for PTSD, to the Vet
Center’s existing and successful treatment programs and outreach! We find it unacceptable to choose
future studies over helping these Veterans today when they need it most. There are already sufficient
studies that prove that there is no cure for PTSD! The VA has known that for years! But there IS treatment;
lessening of and coping with the symptoms along with support and understanding that can make a world
of difference to the Veteran and the family! To them, that is priceless!
In fact, there already is a Highly Qualified study of this problem existing today. The GAO report released
last February 14th, 2005 outlined both the outreach and counseling needed to provide this care. This
study titled “VA Health Care: VA Should Expedite the Implementation of Recommendations Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder Services, GAO-05-287” is very specific in it’s determination of what action is needed to
reach out and care for PTSD, why the VA Hospital system is not responsive to these critical needs and
why decisive and immediate action is needed to prevent a cascading decline of the Mental Health of our
Veterans. This was the GAO’s determination a full year ago! Now this predicted decline is being reflected
in the increased rates of suicides, increased rates of divorces and the increased numbers of our newest
Veterans seeking help. The more these symptoms are ignored, the greater the problem and the more
overwhelmed the system will continue to become. Yet even though Jeff expressed that you agree with the
report; agree that time is critical; and that the projections of how many Veterans who need treatment for
PTSD has increased significantly over the last year; agree that the VA Hospital System is NOT ready to
provide adequate outreach and effectively handle the needs of these Veterans; the Committee still will
NOT support investing just 8% of these allocated funds into the proven and effective Vet Center program
that is helping Veterans NOW!
Unfortunately, it has been proven that PTSD and other readjustment issues will continue to effect our
Veterans decades after the war is over. The longer it goes untreated, the more severe it gets and the
harder it is to heal from. The staff to reach and help these Veterans will be needed for a very long time as
the troops are being reactivated and redeployed back to Iraq and Afghanistan! Even many of the GWOT
Veterans that the Vet Center's have hired as outreach counselors are finding themselves reactivated and
sent back too. As the funding for their jobs is not permanent, without the passage of this Bill, the Vet
Centers will probably lose these positions and the growing need for their help will go unfilled.
Congressman Brown you are the Chairman of this Subcommittee. Please reconsider your stand on this
issue! If you don’t change your mind and intervene now, your good intentions and insight in fencing $2.2
Billion for the treatment of Specialty Mental Health Care (PTSD) will be wasted and the problem will
continue to increase expeditiously. Please don’t waste time waiting for expensive future studies or waste
these funds going into the ineffective Hospital Program instead of fencing resources for the Vet Centers
to help our Combat Veterans now! Fence these funds to allow the Vet Center Program to expand their
successful program to be effective on the scale needed as a result of this war. This will take care of our
Veterans needs today and therefore reduce their needs in the future. Now is the time for action as the
needs of these Veterans are reaching a critical point and the greatest opportunity to help them with early
intervention is upon us. This is the very reason why we continue to strongly support Bill S.716RFH, “The
Vet Center Enhancement Act of 2005”! This Bill has the full unanimous, bipartisan support of the US
Senate clearly stating that money invested in the Vet Center Program is money well spent! When all is
said and done, we’ve concluded that passing S716RFH is now more important than ever.
Congressman Brown, again please reconsider and do the next right thing. Call for a vote on Bill S.
716RFH and call for its unanimous bipartisan support. Please let the wisdom, compassion and insight that
encouraged you to fence $2.2 Billion dollars for the CARE of PTSD, light the way to the passage of the Vet
Center Enhancement Act of 2005!
SaveOurVets.com: a group of Veterans and their families that support the Vet Center Program. We have
the full support of the Iraq War Veterans Organization, the Woman’s Army Corp Veterans Association
(WACVA) and a membership of over 150 people. All information concerning our drive to save this
wonderful program is on our web site SaveOurVets.com.