WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Sen. Patty Murray today was named chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
A member of the committee since 1995, Murray said the appointment "is a great honor, but an even bigger responsibility."
"This is a truly amazing journey for me," she told reporters during a phone conference. Thinking back to 1972 when she was an intern at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Seattle, Murray said she never knew she would one day be the "top advocate" for veterans affairs in the Senate.
Murray said one of her top priorities will be the issue of benefits taking too long to get to veterans. "I want to put a face on that and really put the fire under the VA's feet" to ensure that veterans who need benefits receive them as quickly as possible.
Other issues she vowed to address are long-term care for veterans with traumatic brain injury, helping homeless veterans and battling unemployment among veterans returning to the civilian workforce.
Murray will replace former chairman Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.