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Letter to the Editor: Veterans' care is a top priority

Sunday, June 17, 2007

To the editor: I agree with the June 11 editorial "Caring for veterans" suggesting that more ought to be done at the federal level to provide the benefits and care our veterans have earned.

I agree that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides critical medical care to our veterans throughout the country. A study by my staff of all 22 Missouri VA facilities indicated the facilities are in great shape and our veterans are receiving top-notch care.

The complaints we heard during the study were related to the challenges in obtaining the benefits veterans desperately need to receive adequate health care. Thus, I also agree with the editorial's assessment that the problem lies within the federal system? a system lawmakers like me can work to change.

That's why I don't agree with the suggestion that traveling around the state to listen to our Missouri veterans discuss the challenges they face with VA was not a valuable venture.

In fact, I argue that not enough lawmakers are looking to our veterans to develop the policies that will affect them. I believe the hundreds of veterans I met, including veterans in Kennett, Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau, would agree that's how we got so far off track in the first place: not enough people are listening to them.

As I sit in the Armed Services Committee working on the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors bill, I will have a strong voice filled with the echoes of those veterans. I will work as hard as I know how to improve this bill and the VA system by doing what I was sent to Washington to do: represent Missourians.

CLAIRE McCASKILL, U.S. Senator, Washington