Washington, DC—Senator Patty Murray of Washington delivers this week’s Democratic Radio Address. After years of this Administration under-funding our veterans, and as Veterans Day approaches, Murray calls on the President to enact Democrats’ effort to provide the largest-ever increase in veterans funding.
The text of the radio address, as delivered, is below:
“Good morning, this is U.S. Senator Patty Murray from the state of Washington. I want to talk to you about something that my Democratic colleagues and I have made a priority – our nation’s veterans.
“On Thursday, President Bush gave a speech to a group of conservatives at the Heritage Foundation. In that speech, he told us not to forget September 11th. He reminded us that we are at war. And he attacked Democrats for not falling in line with his policies. I think you will agree that not a single American needs George Bush to remind them of September 11th. We all lived through that tragedy together. Not a single American needs George Bush to remind us that we are still at war. In fact, if it were up to us, we would already be bringing an end to the war that the President started.
“We all know that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched our military to the breaking point. More than 3,800 service members have died, thousands upon thousands have suffered physical and mental wounds at war. Yet for all of President Bush’s hollow talk of ‘supporting the troops,’ he has not done nearly enough to provide our veterans with the care and support they need. And that is simply outrageous.
“The President can call on Democrats to follow him in lockstep all he wants, but when it comes to caring for our veterans, we are not about to start taking advice from George Bush. Because he has under-funded and ignored the VA system, thousands of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare and aren’t getting the health care they need. Under President Bush, the number of uninsured veterans has skyrocketed. The personal data of millions of vets was lost. And yet, the President let three months go by before even nominating a new secretary of veterans’ affairs.
“The crisis at Walter Reed Medical Center was just one visible product of this categorical neglect for our veterans. In spite of all these failures, the President continues to offer little more than speeches and scare tactics. But we all know that it’s not enough to just oppose him. Democrats must deliver on the priorities that he has neglected – and that is exactly what we’re doing.
“Next week we will send a bill to the President’s desk that does two things: provides funding and support to our veterans, and funds other crucial American priorities, like education and Alzheimer’s’ research. Our bill provides thousands of new VA case workers to help reduce the unconscionable delays that separate vets from the care they need. It improves conditions at VA facilities like Walter Reed, invests in new ways to treat military ailments like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and funds better prosthetics for our thousands of troops who have lost limbs in battle. Unfortunately, President Bush says this bill costs too much.
“Well, that’s just not true. The priorities that we fund are ones that he has neglected for far too long. It’s wrong to ignore these needs and neglect our veterans. Our troops have sacrificed so much. They deserve better than to have the President block this bill to make a political point.
“With Veterans Day right around the corner, we must reject President Bush’s politics of fear – and stand united as we make America safer, proudly support our veterans, and set the right priorities for all Americans. This is Senator Patty Murray from Washington State. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.”