Stabenow Announces Major Victory in the March to Fully Fund Veterans Health Care
Senate Passes Legislation that Puts Veterans first, addresses administration shortfalls when it comes to Veteran's needs
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced passage of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2008. The legislation signals a major victory in Stabenow's ongoing battle to fully fund veterans' health care. This critical legislation addresses key shortcomings in the veterans' health system by increasing investments in medical services for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, addressing the claims backlog in the VA system, and investing in VA facilities to prevent another Walter Reed incident.
"Michigan is home to over 780,000 men and women who have worn the uniform in defense of our country," said Stabenow. "Our veterans have always been there for us and our country needs to be there for them. Providing full funding for our Veterans has been a long, hard fight, and the Senate's passage of this bill is a major step towards our goal. No one who has put their life on the line for their country should ever be denied health care because there is a lack of resources."
As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Stabenow played a key role in writing a budget that works for our veterans, putting their welfare above partisan bickering. Working with veterans groups at every turn, Senator Stabenow and the Budget Committee authored a budget that will fully fund veterans' health care for the coming year. This is the first time that a budget has included full funding for veteran's health care based on the needs and requirements laid out by leading Veteran's organizations.
This bill addresses those needs by providing $43 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, $3.6 billion over the President's request and $6.5 billion above last year's levels. This includes funding to address the unique health care needs of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including research into Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, funds to hire at least 500 additional claims processors to reduce the backlog of VA medical claims and over $1 billion for construction and maintenance.
As a member of the Budget Committee and former member of the Banking Committee, Senator Stabenow has been a stalwart advocate for the needs of our nation's veterans. While the current administration has consistently underfunded the Veteran's Administration and underestimated the needs of the thousands of new veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Stabenow has fought at every turn for full funding of veteran's health care and to eliminate the year to year uncertainties in funding the needs of our nation's heroes.