The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies held a March 29 public witness hearing regarding fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Witnesses included representatives from several Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), as well as Heather O’Beirne Kelly, PhD, American Psychological Association Director of Veterans and Military Health Policy, who serves on the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) executive committee.
Dr. Kelly and Carl Blake, Paralyzed Veterans of America Associate Executive Director of Government Relations, both advocated for $713 million in FY 2018 for VA Medical and Prosthetic Research, in line with FOVA and the VSO’s Independent Budget.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) raised VA research facilities, and noted that, in 2012, the VA Office of Research and Development “did an in-depth study and an analysis of the physical condition of the V.A.’s aging research infrastructure, and they reported that the average VA building that houses research laboratories is over 50 years old.”
He continued, citing Dr. Kelly’s testimony and FOVA’s position, “VA lacks the state-of-the-art research facilities and that modern research can't be conducted in facilities that closely resemble a high school science lab. As a result, they are recommending $50 million for five major research facility construction projects and $175 million for minor construction maintenance projects.” Carlos Fuentes, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Director of the National Legislative Service, agreed by stating, “We fully support. Research is one of VA's four core missions, and you're absolutely right.”