Keeping America Safe, Honoring Those Who Serve
Congresswoman Hirono understands and appreciates the importance of our military to Hawai"i and our nation. She is proud of our veterans and the brave men and women currently in uniform, and she will continue to make sure we honor and care for all those who serve so we can be safe and free.
She is working in Congress to support our service members, veterans, and their families, to enhance America's military readiness, and to improve health care and benefits for veterans.
Enhance military readiness:
Combating the threat of global terrorism and protecting our national security interests require a strong military. Congress is making sure our troops are prepared.
* Provide equipment and force protection:
Congresswoman Hirono voted to provide more funding than the President requested for combat equipment, operational training, better protected armor vehicles, and personal body armor so our troops have what they need to be safe and successful.
* Increase troop strength:
To reduce the pressure to extend troop deployments, the House passed a defense appropriations bill which supports the Defense Department's plans to increase the size of the Army by 7,000 soldiers and Marine Corps by 5,000 Marines. Congresswoman Hirono also voted for a bill that increases the time troops are home between deployments, easing the strain on our soldiers and their families.
* Rebuild the National Guard and Reserves:
The House passed legislation that provides $925 million for equipment shortfalls, gives the National Guard enhanced authority to fulfill its expanded role in the nation's defense, and meets the Chief of the National Guard Bureau's essential 10 equipment requirements.
Improve health care and benefits:
This Congress has provided historic increases in veterans' health care and benefits totaling nearly $12 billion and has made strides in addressing the military health care crisis.
* Increase the VA budget:
The House passed a bill that increases the VA budget by $6.7 billion, the largest single increase in the 77-year history of the VA. This will help the VA treat 5.8 million patients (including about 263,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans) and significantly reduce the claim backlog by hiring 1,100 new processors.
* Increase funding for health care facilities:
The House passed legislation that provides $500 million above the President's request for much-needed maintenance of VA health care facilities and $66 million for wounded warrior assistance.
* Address veterans' mental health challenges:
Congresswoman Hirono voted in support of legislation that provides $600 million more than the President's request for mental health, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Traumatic Brain Injury. The measure also makes five poly-trauma centers and three Centers of Excellence for Mental Health and PTSD fully operational.
* Reject an increase in health care fees:
Congress has rejected the Bush Administration plans to impose new enrollment fees on veterans for health care and to nearly double drug co-payments for veterans. Congress has also passed legislation prohibiting fee increases in TRICARE and its pharmacy program for service members and retirees.
Support our troops and their families:
Congresswoman Hirono and her colleagues in the House have passed legislation that assists our service members at home.
* Assist military families:
Congress passed a bill to provide more funding for military family support, including childcare centers, education, the family advocacy program, and community services at military bases.
* Provide a pay increase that exceeds the President's request:
Congress passed legislation providing a 3.5 percent pay raise for all service members as well as special pay and bonuses to combat troops. This pay raise will put $7.3 billion into the paychecks of our men and women in uniform over the next five years.