U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, today praised the Senate's passage of the 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, an annual bill that funds critical military construction projects at Georgia bases.
For the first time, the bill includes advance appropriations to fund three key medical programs for the Department of Veterans Affairs - medical services, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities - totaling $48.2 billion. This advance funding will become available on Oct. 1, 2010, for fiscal year 2011, and will ensure a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for medical care for veterans.
"Georgia's military installations play a critical role in our national defense efforts, and this bill provides our servicemen and women with the funding necessary for the resources and tools to carry out their missions," said Chambliss. "I'm also pleased this bill places an emphasis on providing increased funding for health care services for veterans, which is greatly needed."
"These funds will greatly benefit our bases, our troops and their families. Georgia's military facilities play a key role in the security of our nation, and I am very pleased to see such a strong commitment to them from Washington," Isakson said. "The promises we have made to our veterans must be honored, and this VA funding reflects a strong commitment to the men and women who have served so ably."
Additionally, Sens. Chambliss and Isakson were encouraged by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs' inclusion of report language expressing support for ongoing and future growth at Fort Stewart. The committee report notes that Fort Stewart is a key Army installation with unique training and operational assets. Despite cancellation of the 46th Brigade Combat Teams, the Army projects continued growth at Fort Stewart from 20,512 to 24,970. The committee also recognized that the Army has existing facility shortfalls at Fort Stewart and, instead of rescinding fiscal year 2009 funding, directed the Secretary of the Army to prepare alternative spending proposals to address existing military construction requirements there.
The committee also commented on the potential movement of brigade combat teams out of Europe and the impact that could have at the receiving installation. The resolution of that issue will not be determined until the conclusion of the Quadrennial Defense Review process in February 2010.
"This bill is a significant expression of support and acknowledgement of the tremendous value of Fort Stewart," said Chambliss. "I am grateful for the committee's recognition of the impact that moving one or more brigade combat teams out of Europe would have on an installation such as Fort Stewart. I can think of no better place to position a brigade: It is strategically located and positioned for future growth, thanks in part to the support shown by Congress in this bill, and by the people of Hinesville, Liberty County and the surrounding counties and communities."
"With its strategic location and strong community support, Fort Stewart is still the ideal place to grow the U.S. Army," Isakson said. "I'm pleased this bill reflects support for its future growth, and I will continue to work with the Georgia congressional delegation to ensure that Fort Stewart receives one of the brigades that the Army plans to move back to the States from Europe."