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Mr. ALTMIRE. Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer an amendment that will restore $15.5 million that was cut from the Yellow Ribbon program under this bill.
While I understand the tough budget constraints we face, I think we can all agree that programs that provide essential services to the brave men and women who risk their lives to serve our country should not be on the chopping block. Simply put, no one should stand ahead of our Nation's veterans and our men and women in uniform when it comes time to making Federal funding decisions.
Congress established the Yellow Ribbon program in 2008 to provide tailored support to meet the unique needs of the National Guard and Reserve combat veterans and their families before, during, and after their deployments. The services it provides includes suicide prevention, career counseling, access to health care, veteran, and education benefits. Last year alone, the Yellow Ribbon program held over 2,100 events across the country, reaching over 300,000 servicemen and -women and their families.
As the number of returning National Guard and Reserve combat veterans increases, the need for these services increases along with it. My amendment will help to ensure the Yellow Ribbon program is there to meet the increasing need. My amendment simply restores funding for the Yellow Ribbon program to its level from the previous year, fiscal year 2012, paid for by transferring funds from the overseas contingency operations transfer account. The $15.5 million returned to the Yellow Ribbon program represents only one half of 1 percent of this account. While I recognize its importance, I think a small part of the funding can and should be used to help our National Guard and Reserve veterans and their families navigate through the challenges associated with their deployment.
I urge my colleagues to support my amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.
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