University of Delaware Library

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Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

See below for collection citation and reference information.

I.C.21. Issue Files -- Veterans, 1986-1992

+ Series I.C. -- Scope and Content Note
+ Series I.C. -- Contents List

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.

Carper with Delaware veterans 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 2005.

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.

Related Series:

+ Contents List for Series I.C.21. Issue Files--Veterans

+ Return to Index Page for Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers

+ Guide to Other Political Papers at the University of Delaware Library

+ Return to List of Manuscript Finding Aids by Title

citation and reference information:

Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

1979 - 1993
(bulk dates 1982 - 1992)

Manuscript Collection Number: 399
Accessioned: Gift of Thomas R. Carper, 1992, 1998-1999
Extent: 84 linear ft. and oversize material
Content: Legislation, correspondence, reports, documents and publications, memoranda, speeches, photographs, audio-visual material, newsletters, news clippings, and ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: November 1997 - December 1999 by Rebecca J. Altermatt with assistance from Rob Costello; edited by L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin.

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