Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding certain proposals surrounding veterans’ health care. I appreciate hearing from you, and welcome this opportunity to respond.Like you, I believe our government must not abandon its moral responsibility to the service members and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. I understand our soldiers have performed with extraordinary courage, professionalism and humanity. We must express our respect and gratitude to them and to their families and ensure they have the full support needed to complete their missions. We must also help them when they return home. As you know, on March 10, 2009, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed that the Obama administration was considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance. No official proposal to create such a program had been announced at this time. Currently, veterans’ private insurance is changed only when they receive health care from the VA for medical issues that are not related to service injuries. You may be pleased to know that President Obama has listened to the concerns, and dropped the proposal. I share your concerns about the quality of care that we provide for our soldiers when they return home. As a Member of Congress and a clinical psychologist who worked in veterans’ hospitals and outpatient clinics, helping veterans recover from both the physical scars and the emotional wounds of combat, I know the sacrifices our servicemen and women make. Because of these experiences and my service in Congress, I have always been a steadfast advocate for our veterans. You may be pleased to learn that, in the 110th Congress, we made significant progress to shore up support for all veterans. I have voted for historic increases in veterans’ health care and benefits programs to meet the needs of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. I proudly supported The Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 2638), which the House passed on September 24, 2008, by a vote of 370 to 58. This legislation provides $41 billion, $1.8 billion above the President’s request and $4.1 billion above 2008, for veterans’ medical care. I also proudly supported the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, which was signed into law on October 14, 2008. This legislation authorizes a military pay raise of 3.9 percent, which is 0.5 percent more than the President’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget request. The bill also preserves important health benefits. It extends the prohibitions on increased premiums and co-pays for TRICARE recipients and increased user fees for TRICARE retail pharmacy program. Additionally, the bill creates new preventative health care initiatives to improve the readiness of our force and keep service members and their families healthy. Finally, as we move into the 111th Congress, I will certainly continue to fight for our veterans. I believe it is important that we properly honor and respect those who have risked their lives for our country. Those who serve in our nation’s uniform and under our flag and their families deserve our respect, gratitude, and support.