Extent: 2 linear ft.
Boxes: 48 - 49
Contents: Correspondence, memoranda, notes, floor statements, fact sheets, testimonies, news
clippings, and published reports.
Arrangement: Alphabetically by topic.
The Veterans files reflect a wide range of topics involving American veterans from the
early part of the twentieth century to the Gulf War. Although the majority of the files concern the
health services provided or needed for veterans, other topics are represented.
Congressman Carper's Veterans Forum in 1991 is well-documented. Through this
informal, personal meeting, Carper took steps to inform Delaware veterans of the changes being
made to a system in which they had a vested interest. The goal of the forum was to clarify
information on such topics as the growth of the Veterans Administration (VA) budget, base
closing procedures, homeless veterans, Agent Orange, veterans disability, post-traumatic stress
disorder, and the VA clinic legislation that Carper initiated. Based on correspondence from
veterans involved in the forum, it appears to have been a success for both Carper and those he
was hoping to serve, as it provided an opportunity for a unique arena that encouraged some give-and-take.
A significant portion of the Veterans files involves the VA hospital and clinic legislation
which Carper promulgated. Congressman Carper's legislation sought to improve operations and
patient services at the veterans hospital located in Elsmere, Delaware. Originally built after World
War II to treat approximately 5,000 on an inpatient basis, the Elsmere facility was serving 75,000
outpatient visits annually, a number that was expected to increase to 90,000 annually by the year
In 1973, the Veterans Administration recommended in its "Quality of Care" report to
Congress that a clinical facility be added to the Elsmere system, as well as to a number of other
VA hospitals around the country. With 90 of the recommendations for other locales having been
implemented by the mid-1980s, Carper pushed to ensure the Elsmere facility was brought up to
speed as well. In 1988 the project was finally authorized, and in 1990 $1 million was
appropriated for planning. For 1991, Congress approved $3.2 million for design development for
the facility but Carper was later informed by the VA officials that it was doubtful necessary
construction funds would be made available from the President's budget plans for fiscal year
1993. Feeling "like the rug had been pulled out from under him," Congressman Carper was
disappointed that a project with more than $4 million invested might not go through, and more
importantly that a project directly affecting a large number of his constituents might not reach
fruition. In an effort to ensure completion of the project, Carper invited the top VA officials to
Delaware to view the Elsmere facility first-hand and see how truly necessary an overhaul was.
This effort paid off in the end, as the Veterans Administration decided it would work to address
the gross deficiencies they found.
Ultimately, the chief medical director's office decided to recommend that the Elsmere
facility project be included in the President's fiscal year 1993 budget. They added that it should
serve as a model for other facility directors and legislators as an example of how they could
improve odds for funding a project by working cooperatively with the VA's Resource
Management Team to meet the most pressing needs of the veterans in a community. The fiscal
year 1993 budget ultimately included $20.5 million for the Elsmere facility, signaling a significant
victory for both Carper and Delaware veterans. The information included in the files on the
Elsmere VA clinic is quite extensive and demonstrates the effort, determination, and patience
needed to complete such a large project.
The subseries also contains information pertaining to the use of National Guard troops in
an active duty role during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The inclusion of this topic within the
Veterans files is due to the fact that many National Guard and Reserve troops (including Carper)
are veterans from the Vietnam war on active duty and many still play an important role in the
functioning of the U.S. armed forces. Most of the National Guard issues file deals with concern
over relieving Delaware Army National Guard units from full-time duty in Saudi Arabia so that
they can return home to see families and resume civilian lives. Correspondence included here
discussed specific dates and times that units were to return from the Gulf, as well as the steps
necessary for making sure their families were informed.
Other topics of interest contained within the Veterans files are Agent Orange and
post-traumatic stress disorder disabilities, cost-of-living adjustments, National Guard-specific
legislation, and Vietnam veterans in Congress.