Veteran Service Organizations have dispatched a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) to request adequate funding to ensure a smooth implementation of disability benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans. The letter states that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) cannot effectively implement the new law if they are not provided adequate funding. According to the Aug. 1, 2018, testimony of VA Under Secretary for Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates the cost of extending benefits to blue-water veterans will be $5.7 billion. The VA also anticipates an additional $1 billion is necessary to cover increased health care expenditures, operating expenses and information technology support for the VBA. In a Sept. 7, 2018, letter from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, the VA further estimates it will require 803 new employees to manage these claims. The VA predicts there will be thousands more claims than the number estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. The letter urges Congress to appropriate suitable resources for the complete and immediate implementation of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Congress will need to assist the VA to ensure this vulnerable group receives in a timely manner the health care and benefits they have been denied for decades. If you are or know any Blue Water Veterans, please have them come to see me for benefits they have earned. For more information, contact Sandra at the Veterans Service Office at 602 Strong Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, or call 325-365-3612.

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