HOLT INCLUDES FORT MONMOUTH HEALTH CARE PROVISION IN VETERANS AFFAIRS FUNDING BILL
The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Fiscal Year 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, legislation that includes language inserted by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) to direct the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to develop a plan to care for the veterans and military retirees in Central New Jersey who would need health care services if Fort Monmouth's Patterson Army Health Clinic were to close in 2011. The Patterson Army Health Clinic services 3,313 military retirees and provides primary care and medical support for 1,311 dependents. The report would need to be delivered by January 30, 2009. The bill now goes to the Senate for its approval.
"While I continue to oppose the decision to close Fort Monmouth and pursue ways to reverse it, we should plan to meet the medical needs of the many veterans and TRICARE beneficiaries in Central New Jersey." Holt said. "This report would be a step toward accomplishing that goal."
In addition to the Fort Monmouth language, the bill would provide $40.7 billion for VA health programs, which is $3.1 billion over the current level. In addition to continuing to focus on providing adequate funding to treat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), the bill would provide $400 million that was not requested by the Bush Administration to begin enrolling 10 percent of Priority 8 veterans in the VA medical system. The Priority 8 category is reserved for veterans whose injuries currently are not rated as service related and whose incomes are more than $24,644 if single or $29,576 for a veteran with a dependent. An estimated one half of all uninsured veterans are Priority 8, and Priority 8 veterans have not been enrolled since 2003.
"We must always ensure that we honor, through our words as well as our deeds, those who have served the nation in the cause of freedom," Holt said. "This bill would help fulfill the promise that our country has made to its veterans."