PROVIDING FOR OUR MILITARY AND OUR VETERANS
America's veterans have engaged in one of the noblest forms of public service: defending our nation. These brave, patriotic men and women have helped to liberate victims of oppression, spread democracy across the world and preserve the freedoms our nation was built upon. They have served on aircraft carriers in distant oceans, kept the peace on volatile borders, and patrolled the skies of international hot spots. Theirs is a service marked by humility and born of a love of country. For these selfless actions, we in turn have a responsibility to ensure that our troops are sufficiently provided for when they return home.
Last week, with my support, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a significant increase in veterans funding. Next year the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is expected to treat more than 5.8 million patients, which is an increase of 40,000 veterans compared to 2008. To meet this ever increasing need for quality health care, which our veterans so rightfully deserve, the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act includes funding for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) care, traumatic brain injury research and care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and an important mileage rate increase for veterans commuting to Veterans Administration (VA) facilities. The veterans spending bill also contains vital funding to improve and maintain VA facilities, hospitals and clinics. Most importantly, this legislation contains the funding needed to add 2,100 new VA case workers to help reduce the unacceptable delays many veterans face in receiving their benefits.
In addition to providing for our men and women who have completed their service to their country, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act contains important resources for our dedicated members of the armed forces who are currently serving our nation. This important legislation contains significant funding for quality of life projects that will directly improve living conditions and health care delivery for our active duty service members and their families. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill contains funding to further eliminate inadequate military housing, improve the barracks our soldiers and Marines live in while they are in training, and upgrade our military medical facilities.
It is crucial that we continue to provide the vital resources such as health care, housing and benefits to the brave Americans who have served and sacrificed for our country and those who continue to serve today. Mindful of their sacrifice, Congress has sought to honor our veterans, our active duty military and their loved ones. I am pleased the House of Representatives worked together in a bipartisan fashion to pass the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act which provides these necessary resources to those who have so nobly defended our nation.