Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) applauded passage of the Military Construction (MILCON) and Veterans Affairs (VA) funding bill, which included several of her funding requests for Hawai"i military and veterans priorities. The measure passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday night by a vote of 421-4.
"Even as budgets tighten around the country, it remains crucial to ensure our military's readiness and keep the promises we have made to our selfless veterans," said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. "This funding bill included several key priorities for Hawai"i that will strengthen our military and economy, help the VA reduce claims backlog to provide our veterans with timely benefits, and ensure Hawai"i's significant role in the nation's rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. This is a strong step toward ensuring that Hawai"i's priorities continue to be supported at the federal level."
Following a formal request by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the MILCON/VA appropriations bill included funding for additional claims processors and provisions for increased oversight of VA offices that have significant backlog of disability claims, $4.8 billion to improve VA medical facilities, $250 million to improve healthcare for veterans in rural areas, and $20 million for military suicide prevention and outreach. The bill also requires that the VA report the number and status of awarded, pending, and denied Filipino war veteran claims by December 1, 2013. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has supported several measures to provide earned benefits for Filipino WWII veterans, including the Filipino Veterans Promise Act and the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act.
The funding bill also included provisions for several major Hawai"i MILCON projects including:
Fort Shafter - $65,000,000
Kaneohe Bay - $236,982,000
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard - $57,998,000
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam -- $37,600,000
Ford Island -- DISA -- $2,615,000