Today, Rep. Holden voted to support our troops and veterans by ensuring critical funding for veterans health services and the construction of key facilities for training and housing our military. As our troops return home from Iraq, the funding is a 7.4 percent increase over the previous year for veterans' health care and benefits, including funding more than 4,000 additional permanent claims processors. The funding also ensures ensuring timely and reliable funding for veterans' services.
"I have always supported legislation that ensures we never forget the sacrifice and service of those who have risked their lives to ensure our nation," said Rep. Holden. "The vote today will make sure that funding for veterans benefits keeps pace with the needs of a nation at war."
With passage of this bill, Congress will have provided a 70 percent increase in funding for veterans' health care and benefits, over 10,000 new claims processors to reduce VA case backlogs, 3,389 new doctors and 14,316 new nurses, 145 new community-based vet outpatient clinics, and 92 new vet centers.
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act strengthens the VA workforce to tackle claims backlogs and to process new educational benefits provided through the new GI Bill enacted in the last Congress, under Democratic leadership. And, it allows the VA to process newly eligible claims for disabilities of Vietnam veterans and their survivors due to exposure to Agent Orange. The legislation also provides new family caregiver benefits for disabled veterans.
The bill also addresses critical military construction needs to train and house our troops. It accelerates the Army's program to modernize troop housing for trainees, addresses unfunded construction requirements of our Guard and Reserve and expedites the environmental cleanup on closed military bases.