By a vote 81-14, the Senate today approved the final version of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes several provisions authored by U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that provide support to America's service members, veterans, and military families. Senator Ayotte successfully included in the final bill amendments to improve mental health programs for members of the National Guard and Reserve, streamline the production of prosthetics for military amputees, and ensure proper care of America's overseas veterans cemeteries. The bill will now be sent to the president.
"Our service members, who sacrificed so much for our country, deserve access to the very best care available," said Senator Ayotte. "This legislation includes important provisions that will help improve mental health care for our Guard and Reserve members as they transition back to civilian life, and improve DoD's prosthetics program for wounded warriors."
She continued, "I'm also pleased that the final bill includes my amendment to help ensure proper care of America's overseas military cemeteries. We have a moral obligation to make sure that the brave Americans who served on distant battlefields have a dignified final resting place."
AYOTTE PROVISIONS IN THE FY 2013 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Senator Ayotte and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) successfully included an amendment aimed at enhancing the department's research, treatment, education, and outreach initiatives focused on the mental health, substance abuse, and traumatic brain injury needs of members of the National Guard and Reserve. This amendment will help address the unique needs of Guard and Reserve members by allowing DoD to enter into partnerships with private organizations and institutions according to a competitive and merit-based process.
Prosthetics for Wounded Warriors
Language included by Senator Ayotte requires the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to standardize the production and performance of prostheses and prosthetic sockets for military amputees. The Ayotte report language encourages DoD to continue clinical and technological research and development for prostheses, as well as adopt standards for production and human performance. Such standards are critical to helping service members who have lost one or more limbs in service to our country to achieve their highest goals for recovery, rehabilitation, and performance.
Senator Ayotte successfully included an amendment that would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report no later than 30 days after the closure of any overseas U.S. military base that details a plan to ensure that an appropriate federal agency or private entity assumes responsibility for continued maintenance and oversight of the cemetery located on the base. The Ayotte amendment would help ensure that no cemetery will be neglected the way Clark Veterans Cemetery was following the Air Force's departure from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines in 1991.