The primary source for health care for our nationís veterans, especially those with service-connected injuries, is VA healthcare system. Not only does VA provide veterans with the normal inpatient care they might need, it also provides a multitude of specialized care to veterans like those with spinal cord injuries and blindness. This type of highly specialized care is very expensive and would be almost impossible for veterans to obtain outside of VA. It is the first backup to the Department of Defense in times of armed conflict and a high tech provider of specialized servicesómany of which are needed because of the traumas of combat.

The system is also a key element of VA research and development, which AMVETS strongly supports because of its contributions to veteransí healthcare and the public good.

AMVETS believes it is absolutely critical that the VA healthcare system be fully funded. It is important our nation keep its promise to care for the veterans who made so many sacrifices to ensure the freedom of so many. With the expected increase in the number of veterans, particularly those with service-connected injuries, in the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, a need to increase VA health care spending should be an immediate priority this year. We must remain insistent about funding the needs of the system, serving veterans, and the recruitment and retention of vital health-care professionals, especially registered nurses. Chronic under funding, however, has led to rationing of care through reduced services, lengthy delays in appointments, higher co-payments and, in too many cases, sick and disabled veterans being turned away from treatment.

AMVETS, therefore, seeks actions that willó