Keeping America safe is Congressman Rooney's top priority. The enemy America faces today is ever changing and unconventional; the only constant is their desire to harm Americans. Congressman Rooney has the honor and privilege of serving on the House Armed Service Committee. As an Army veteran the Congressman understands the importance of ensuring that the men and women of the military have the support they need to achieve their mission.
One of the first bills Tom introduced would prevent Guantanamo Bay detainees from being transferred into Florida. His position on both the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees has allowed him the opportunity to take an active role in the debate regarding closing Guantanamo Bay and what to do with the detainees. The President issued a hasty executive order to close the Bay without a plan. This spring the Congressman traveled to Guantanamo Bay to see first-hand the facilities and to speak with troops stationed there. He was very impressed with the state of the art facilities and the professional manner in which the soldiers ran the facility.
This year Congressman Rooney also traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to meet and talk to troops on the ground. He believes we have the most professional and talented fighting force in the world. During his travels and in talking with troops, one theme rang true -- the backbone of the fighting force is the military family. Supporting the families of our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen is essential to preserving a robust and effective all volunteer force.
One very important issue for Tom is ensuring that returning war-fighters receive the health care they earned and deserve. Shortly after being sworn in, Congressman Rooney introduced a bill with his colleague Michael McMahon of New York to make it mandatory for members of our armed forces to receive face-to-face expert and confidential screenings with mental health professionals following a deployment. Great progress has been made over the past several months in bringing awareness to the growing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) crisis facing American troops. Rooney worked with fellow House Armed Services Committee members to have language included in the Defense Reauthorization bill to start a pilot project for screening our soldiers.
In May, Rep. McMahon and Congressman Rooney sent a bipartisan letter, signed by almost fifty House colleagues, to the Subcommittee on Defense Chairman and Ranking Member urging the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee to increase overall funding for mental health programs by $300 million. As a result, the House passed Defense appropriations bill included $500 million for Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological health research, counseling and treatment programs. This is a great step in the direction of removing the stigma of mental health screening and treatment and Tom is proud of the progress on this matter.
Congressman Rooney has supported numerous pieces of legislation that benefit our troops, military families, wounded warriors and veterans. He promises to continue to work hard to ensure our military has the capabilities and resources necessary to overcome the evolving challenges of protecting America.