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Archive for Thursday, July 29, 1999

VA BUDGET CONCERNS LOCAL VET

July 29, 1999

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Lawrence veterans are concerned about the Veterans Affairs budget now under consideration by Congress.

A member of the local American Legion said politicians should tour Department of Veterans Affairs facilities before voting on funding.

"For the general public and some of these officials in Washington, they ought to make visits to these hospitals and see the patients in there and their needs," said Alan Fisher, 77, past commander of Dorsey-Liberty Post No. 14 of the American Legion in Lawrence.

"I think if they did they'd have a much more sympathetic viewing of these patients and their needs."

Butch Miller, national commander of the American Legion, on Wednesday said Congress needs to allocate $1.1 billion to maintain the VA's current services.

Unless that happens, Miller said, "VA leaders will be forced to implement personnel cuts, terminate services and programs, and ration health care."

VA benefits have come to the attention of many area residents, including U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., following last week's murder-suicide of a veteran and his wife in Kansas City, Kan. The couple's son has said his father was distraught over a planned cut in his benefits.

Moore wrote a letter to President Clinton asking for his support of funding for VA health services.

Fisher said that although the local American Legion post has taken no formal position on the VA budget issue, he said many local veterans are concerned about it.

"It's a shame, it seems to me, for these guys who gave their all " to now be denied services for illnesses to which they are not responsible for," he said.

The office of U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., released a statement Wednesday saying Ryun supported increased VA funding.

"We in Congress must do better in managing this funding to give veterans the maximum benefit, and we must also implement other changes to help guarantee that veterans are given the opportunities and benefits they have earned," Ryun said in the statement.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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