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January 27, 2011 at 12:31pm

Murray is first woman in Senate history to lead VA committee

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This from Air Force Times: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the new Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chairwoman, uses the word "needs" rather than "wants" to describe the things that must be done to help the nation's veterans.

The 60-year-old daughter of a disabled World War II veteran, Murray has been an active committee member since 1995 and a fierce critic of the bureaucracy that faces veterans and their families when they try to get benefits, use veterans hospitals or get other aid from the Veterans Affairs Department.

Murray, who succeeds World War II veteran Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is the first woman in Senate history to lead the committee. She has worked on issues involving female veterans and believes there is much more to do to help women, but her goals go far beyond that.

"I have never turned down a job because it is too hard," said Murray, a member of the Senate leadership who was elected to a fourth term in November. "I know we have World War II veterans who have needs today, Vietnam veterans who are aging, and we have a new population of veterans coming home who need disability checks, need employment and need VA services that work better. I intend to really have the committee be a place where veterans have a voice and an advocate."

VA has made strides toward becoming more veteran-friendly, she said, but the department still doesn't always work for veterans.

"I think the people at VA have the right intentions," she said, but budgets, bureaucracy and employee attitudes all contribute to a feeling among some veterans that they are poorly served.

To read more, click here.

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