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APA Kicks off the Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations Season by Advocating for a Strong Psychological Research Program within the VA

Executive Director for Science Steve Breckler presented APA's testimony on funding for psychological research and services within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and the VA.

By Heather O'Beirne Kelly

On Wednesday, March 1st, Executive Director for Science Steve Breckler presented APA's testimony on funding for psychological research and services within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and the VA. Congressional subcommittees handle input from outside individuals and organizations in different ways as they "mark up" annual legislation funding federal agencies. Some hold public witness hearings, and in this case APA was lucky to receive a five-minute "slot" to testify orally before the Subcommittee, which directs funds to the VA and its research and medical care accounts.

In Breckler's testimony, he thanked the Subcommittee for doubling the mental health research budget within the VA in Fiscal Year 2006, and requested continued, strong support in Fiscal Year 2007, despite a cut to overall VA research support proposed by President Bush this year. Breckler also encouraged Congress to require more direct collaboration between the research arms of the VA and the Department of Defense, which appeared to catch the interest of Subcommittee Chairman James Walsh (R-NY). Ranking Member Chet Edwards (D-TX) and his Democratic colleague Sam Farr (D-CA) were struck by the numbers - how many researcher positions and research projects would have to be eliminated if the proposed cut to the VA research program stands. Breckler also emphasized the need for psychological scientists to be involved in the design, implementation and analysis phases of newly-mandated studies of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues with military and veteran populations.

Science Policy staff will continue to push Congress to restore the VA research budget throughout the spring appropriations season on Capitol Hill, both through individual lobbying and joint efforts with the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research coalition, of which APA is an active member. Access APA's complete oral testimony regarding the VA budget.