Senator Landrieu is proud of Louisiana's role in the defense of our nation and is honored to work for all of the men and women in uniform working and living in our state.
The Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters, in Algiers, is located in the center of the new Federal City. At the Avondale shipyard, over 6,000 men and women from Louisiana build the finest ships in the Navy fleet. The Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans located in Belle Chasse houses units from the Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps. In addition, the Coast Guard also has a unit assigned. In all there are 1,400 active duty and 3,500 reserve military personnel assigned to the Joint Reserve Base.
Vernon Parish hosts Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Training Center. Currently, almost 10,000 soldiers are stationed at Fort Polk. It is the premiere infantry training base in the world with state-of-the-art training ranges and an urban combat facility that expertly prepare our soldiers for the threats of modern warfare. Moreover, since 2004, nearly 15,000 soldiers have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from Ft. Polk.
Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier Parish is home to Global Strike Command, 8th Air Force headquarters, and the Air Force's storied B-52s and A-10 Warthogs. Close to 5,500 airmen call Barksdale home. Global Strike Command, the newest Air Force Major Command, has 900 Airmen assigned to its Headquarters and 23,000 personnel assigned to the Command.
Close to 11,000 Louisianans serve their country as members of the Louisiana National Guard. The United States cannot fight without our National Guard and Reserve. Approximately 14,000 Louisiana Guardsmen and Reservist have been called to active duty since September 11, 2001. They have served their country with distinction during difficult times. They must often leave their families and work-places for up to 18 months and face the hazards of combat. Currently, the 256th Tiger Brigade Infantry Combat Unit -- over 3,000 soldiers strong -- is training at Camp Shelby and has orders to deploy to Iraq in the next six to eight weeks. Senator Landrieu thanks our soldiers and their families for their continued sacrifice and service to our state and country.
As a member of the MilCon/Veterans Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Landrieu is focused on fighting for the needs of all our veterans.
Louisiana has 316,000 veterans as of 2009. Of these, 126,375 were enrolled and 81,143 received care at VA hospitals or outpatient clinics in 2009. In 2009, VA guaranteed 3,673 loans in LA (2,374 purchase loans and 1,299 refinance loans). There are currently 18,812 active VA-guaranteed loans in LA.
In 2008, veterans' outpatient visits to hospitals and clinics totaled 976,000. Statewide Inpatient admissions totaled 8,434. Also in 2008, 47,781 Louisiana Veterans and survivors collected disability compensation or pensions. In addition, 6,966 Veterans received GI Bill payments for education.
Currently, the VA has 236 transitional housing beds currently in operation through the VA's Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program. The GPD Program has funded the development of an additional 112 units of transitional housing for Louisiana's homeless Veterans which will be operational by the end of 2010. In addition, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development - VA Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, 185 Veterans have secured permanent housing.
Louisiana currently has two operating VA hospitals (Alexandria, Shreveport) and eight Community Based Outpatient Clinics (Baton Rouge, Jennings, Monroe, Reserve, Slidell, Houma, Hammond and Lafayette). By 2012, five additional Community Based Outpatient Clinics will open up in Lake Charles, Leesville, Natchitoches, Franklin, and Bogalusa. Currently, the VA is working with city, state and federal officials to reopen the hospital in New Orleans.
Senator Landrieu believes that the brave men and women who served as members of our armed forces deserve the best care and benefits that our country can provide. Their sacrifices for our country are not forgotten, and I will continue to fight hard for all of our Louisiana veterans.