Congressman Marion Berry Visits with Region 8 Veterans

January 15, 2004 -- Posted at 6:34 p.m.

BATESVILLE—After being hospitalized for a Gastro-Intestinal Disorder, Congressman Marion Berry is back to work, making his rounds through Region 8. Today he visited with veterans in Batesville.

The veterans there are pleased with Congressman Berry's decision not to support the President's 87 billion dollar supplemental package for Iraq.

Berry says the legislation offers enough money for soldiers, but more than enough for the rebuilding of that country.

"We have perfectly good needs here that I think should be taken care of first," said Berry.

For veterans like Cecil Wyatt, having the chance to speak with his elected official allows him to find out what he can afford. For him, and other veterans, the future of their medical benefits seems uncertain at this time.

"I don't know what direction we're headed in to tell you the truth," said Wyatt.

Congressman Berry isn't sure what direction government spending is headed as well. He says the government continues to face a growing budget deficit that some of his Republican colleagues believe could be balanced by reducing veteran's benefits. Berry is fighting to stop that from happening.

"We have changed the issue to the point where now if you're 100% disabled you will begin to get $750 added to your disability check or your veterans benefits check," said Berry.

Berry says he's also concerned about the future of military reservists; a group he says is actually becoming a branch of the military itself.

"We just simply can't continue to put them in a position where they don't know if they're going to have healthcare for their families or not," said Berry.

Berry hopes to introduce healthcare legislation for reservists, and other veteran related legislation, when Congress reconvenes next week, but he admits there's still an uphill battle in Congress for Democrats like himself that make up the minority party.