U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Thursday was named the new chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
“This is a great honor, but an even bigger responsibility,” Murray said in a news release. “I have a tremendous duty to the 22 million veterans across the country who have stepped up to serve our nation and who deserve the highest quality care, benefits, and treatment in return.”
Murray has been a member of the committee since 1995. She has fought to give veterans access to quality care and benefits, has pushed for adequate funding of the VA, and has worked to ensure the VA is preparing for an influx of new veterans.
She said far too many veterans “are sleeping on the streets after serving their country” and that too many are waiting far too long to receive benefits they’ve earned, including access to mental health care, worker training, and other resources to help them transition from soldiers to civilians.
Murray said she intends to make sure that the VA “is working for our veterans, not against them.”
“Our service members should never have to come home from fighting a war only to fight to get the benefits and care that they deserve,” she said.
The Republican chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee, Jeff Miller of Florida, said Thursday a review is needed to ensure that money for veterans programs is spent wisely. But Murray says she will be watching Republicans “like a hawk” to ensure veterans get their financial due.
Miller’s party has promised governmentwide spending cuts. Murray says she’s heard promises before that veterans services wouldn’t be cut, only to find out they have.
The House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have jurisdiction over the Veterans Affairs Department, the nation’s second-largest agency. It provides benefits checks and medical services to the nation’s 22 million veterans.