Wilson Amendment Passes House in Major Veterans Healthcare Funding Bill
Congresswoman Heather Wilson today welcomed House passage 409-2 of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2008 with a Wilson-authored amendment for women veterans, important military construction for Kirtland Air Force Base, and a substantial boost in veterans' healthcare funding.
Wilson's amendment, accepted by voice vote, would allocate $2 million to the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to establish a commission to make recommendations to the VA and the Congress on the health care needs of growing numbers of women veterans.
"The increasing number of women serving in the military, including in combat zones, will change and challenge the VA and DOD health care systems in ways we don't yet fully understand," Wilson said.
One in seven veterans returning from Iraq is a woman. Wilson, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is the only woman veteran serving in Congress. She spoke today on the House floor: "My goal in proposing this amendment is to bring together a group of people who can devote the time and effort to study the needs and examine the challenges women veterans face."
Wilson welcomed $1 million in funds for Kirtland Air Force Base to replace the fuel unloading facility. Cannon Air Force Base also is set to receive a flight simulator located in New Mexico for Special Operations Forces training, funded at $7.5 million, and a reconstructed hangar at $1.638 million to accommodate the C-130s.
"Each one of these construction projects creates jobs and strengthens an important military mission," Wilson said.
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act bolsters funding for veterans healthcare and adds 1,000 claims processors to reduce the VA backlog. The bill funds all aspects of the Department of Veterans Affairs at $43.2 billion. Of that, more than $37 billion goes toward health care, an increase of more than 18 percent, as the VA estimates treating 5.8 million veterans in the year 2008.
"America is a grateful nation," Wilson said. "Millions around the world today live in freedom because of the service and sacrifice of our veterans. As a nation, we have an important commitment to take care of our veterans."
The bill includes funding support for housing and other issues associated with the end strength increase that is underway over the next five years. During that span the Army will be increased 65,000, the Marine Corps by 27,000 and the Guard and Reserve by 9,200.
Wilson, the only woman veteran in Congress and a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, continues to work to ensure that our veterans get the benefits they were promised, the health care they deserve, and the recognition that our nation owes them.