Washington, DC—Senators Jack Reed, Patty Murray and Mary Landrieu of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies joined Iraq War veteran Peter Granato, Vice Chairman of Vote Vets, today to discuss the importance of providing funding for our veterans. The Senate is currently debating legislation that would provide $109.2 billion in funding for military construction and the Veterans Administration, which is approximately $4 billion more than the president requested.
The bill sets total veterans spending at more than $87 billion – representing nearly the entire independent budget put together by Veterans Service Organizations – and is an increase of nearly $10 billion over the VA spending bill approved last year by the Republican-led Senate.
“This bill demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to meeting the needs of our veterans,” said Reed, a former Army Ranger who is serving as the Acting Chairman, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies in Sen. Tim Johnson’s absence. “It goes beyond the President’s proposals for the VA, and instead provides the funds recommended by our nation’s veteran organizations. This increase in funding is a major victory for our veterans, soldiers, and their families. The money in this bill will help address the health needs of our service members and allow the VA to accelerate its efforts to clear the current backlog in the processing of benefits claims.”
“This bill finally takes the necessary steps to recognize our veterans as a cost of war,” said Senator Murray, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. “It invests in improving health care, expanding mental health services, fixing the VA benefits process, and constructing new facilities. It will mean more qualified health care workers, reduced wait times for benefits, better prosthetics, and more accessible veteran’s facilities. After years of frustration, we are now honoring the sacrifice of those who sign up to serve with funding that meets their needs.”
“America depends on our brave service members for everything from the War on Terror to helping recover from disasters here at home,” said Landrieu, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. “We must do everything in our power to ensure a strong quality of life for every one of our men and women in uniform. We must also ensure that they are treated well when they return home from duty. This bill provides necessary funding for important military construction projects and will fully fund the Veterans Administration so that our veterans have the healthcare and other resources they need and so richly deserve when they return from the frontlines.”
“Our military is the best. It always has been, and at this critical time, we need to make sure that it always will be,” Granato said. “It’s time to show a real commitment to those who give their lives to this nation. We must do so as a matter of fairness, but also as a matter of national security. On behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, I implore Congress to pass this bill.”