Funding Bill Shows Continued Commitment to Improving Services for Veterans and Military Personnel
Commends continued prioritization of veterans’ mental health issues
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.-3) applauded the continued investment of resources, which builds upon last year’s historic investment, to provide for our veterans in the fiscal year 2010 Military Construction and Veteran Affairs Appropriations Bill. The bill builds on two years of record funding for veterans’ health care, support for military facilities and new measures, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will better be able to care for the men and women who served our country.
The bill was approved yesterday evening [Tuesday 23 June 2009] by the full Appropriations Committee and will now be debated by the House, following passage there, the legislation will also need to be voted on by the Senate, approved by both chambers and signed by the President.
“This legislation is about meeting our responsibilities to our troops. We have a duty to ensure that when our brave men and women in uniform return from the battlefield, that we meet their needs and provide them with the care they deserve,” said DeLauro.
The bill totals $77.9 billion in discretionary spending for fiscal year 2010, including Overseas Contingency Operations funding – $239 million more than the President’s request and $5 billion more than fiscal year 2009. This includes $108.8 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs – $14.5 billion above 2009.
In referencing the resources for mental health, DeLauro praised the commitment, adding, “Increasingly our troops – soldiers, marines, airmen and airwomen – report psychological symptoms after returning from the battlefield. Last year, the Army saw the highest rate of suicide since they began keeping track of records in 1980. It is crucial that when they return we are meeting their mental needs, as well as their physical needs.”
Veterans Health Administration (VHA): $45.1 billion, the same as the President’s Request and $4.4 billion above 2009 after adjusting for transfers approved by the Committee on January 6, 2009, for veterans medical care. The Veterans Health Administration estimates they will treat more than 6.1 million patients in 2010 including more than 419,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan (56,000 more than 2010).
• Medical Services: $34.7 billion, the same as the President’s Request and $4.0 billion above 2009 after adjusting for approved transfers, to improve access to medical services for all veterans.
• Mental Health: $4.6 billion, the same as the President’s Request and $800 million above 2009, for mental health care.
• Assistance for Homeless Vets: $3.2 billion, the same as the President’s Request and $949 million above 2009, includes $26 million for a Presidential Initiative to combat homelessness, $150 million for the homeless grants and per diem program, $20 million for supportive services for low income veterans and families, in addition to $21 million to hire additional personnel for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program.
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION: $24.6 billion, $226 million above the President’s Request and $472 million below 2009, including $1.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. The decrease from 2009 is attributable to the expected decline in BRAC construction requirements and the success of the family housing privatization program.
• Trainee Troop Housing Initiative: $450 million to accelerate the Army’s program to modernize troop housing facilities for trainees. The Army has a need for $2.2 billion to bring all 115,413 trainee barracks spaces up to standard and the program currently is not scheduled to finish until 2017.
• Guard and Reserve Initiative: $200 million in additional funding is provided for Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy and Marine Corps Reserve, and Air Force Reserve construction to address critical unfunded requirements, in recognition of the tremendous contributions made by Guard and Reserve personnel to emergency assistance, homeland security, and national defense.
• BRAC 1990 Environmental Cleanup: $537 million, $140 million above the President’s Request and $78 million above 2009, to address the large unfunded backlog of environmental cleanup for bases that were closed during the four previous BRAC rounds. • 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and Re-stationing: $7.5 billion, same as the President’s request, to implement base closures and realignments, and support the re-stationing of troops and their families from overseas to the United States.
• Military Housing: $2 billion, same as the President’s Request, to continue eliminating inadequate military housing.
Advanced VA Healthcare Funding: The bill provides advance appropriations for fiscal year 2011 for three medical accounts: medical services, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities, to ensure timely and predictable funding for the veterans health care system.
Of interest to Connecticut, the bill includes funding for the following project in Connecticut:
TFI–CNAF Facilities Upgrade, $9 million: (Connecticut Air National Guard located at Bradley International Airport, 100 Nicholson Road, East Granby CT 06026-9309): to upgrade the Connecticut Air National Guard facilities at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Lock, CT.