Our extraordinary men and women in uniform are the core of our national defense. I support whatever it takes to make sure they have the resources to perform their mission and to return home safely. That is why I support funding our troops, providing the equipment and supplies they need, and raising their pay and keeping their health care costs affordable.
Fighting two wars requires that we sustain our efforts to restore military readiness. I supported recent Defense bills that increase the size of the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy. Legislation also provides a 3.4 percent pay raise for all service members and provides $6.9 billion to address equipment shortfalls in the National Guard and Reserve.
To improve benefits available to wounded warriors, it provides travel and transportation for three designated persons to visit hospitalized service members.
We can never say thank you enough to our veterans. That's why I supported the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009--legislation that will provide the Department of Veterans Affairs advance appropriations to craft its health care budget a full year in advance.
August 1, 2009, saw the start of long-promised education benefits, authorized under the new GI Bill for the 21st Century. An estimated 2.1 million veterans are eligible. It keeps my promise to the members of Fox Company--a Marine Reserve unit deployed to Iraq that--because of a technical loophole--couldn't access the education benefits they had rightfully earned.
I will continue to fight to cut red tape and ease access to veterans for their benefits, their medical treatment and their battle commendations, medals and recognition.