Washington, DC—Senate Democrats and representatives of veterans groups held a press conference today to discuss the veterans’ funding bill Congress will send the President. While President Bush has consistently under-funded our veterans, even in a time of war, Democrats have passed a bill to provide the largest increase ever in funding for our veterans.
“The House and Senate are bringing to the floor a conference committee bill that contains the largest increase in veterans spending in a generation – more than $4 billion in total,” Sen. Dick Durbin said. “For the first time in years, we are funding veterans at the level they said they needed to be funded, but the President opposes it. If the President is as concerned as he claims to be with the health and well being of our veterans, he will change course and sign this bill into law."
Said Sen. Jack Reed, a former Army Captain: “This legislation demonstrates our commitment to veterans. Put simply, it is the largest single increase in the 77-year history of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also makes important investments in our children’s education and increases access to quality health care for more of our veterans and working families. These initiatives received bipartisan support in Congress. The President should sign the bill without delay.”
“Congress is finally making great strides in the effort to keep faith with our veterans,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “All across the country there are veterans and their families who, as a result of their service to the nation, are experiencing health problems or financial problems. As a nation, we owe it to them to provide them the health care and benefits they have earned. What we must understand, now and forever, is that taking care of veterans is a cost of war, and that it must be built into the financial equation of any war and any military budget.”
Said Joseph A. Violante, National Legislative Director of Disabled American Veterans (DAV): “This much-needed funding increase – the largest in the 77-year history of the VA – will allow the agency to better meet the needs of the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all veterans who have served. The discretionary funding levels in this appropriations bill are, for the first time, in line with recommendations in The Independent Budget authored by the DAV and other veterans service organizations.”
“Funding for homeless veterans assistance programs is necessary to ensure America’s former guardians receive the help they need to regain control of their lives and return to society as productive, self sufficient citizens,” said Cheryl Beversdorf, President and CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “They deserve nothing less than the full measure of support in their greatest hour of need.”
Said Jon Soltz, Chairman of Vote Vets: “There is no legitimate reason to oppose aid for our veterans, especially at this crucial time when a tidal wave of them is coming. My fellow troops and veterans have put their lives on the line for this Administration’s policy, often sustaining debilitating physical and mental injuries. It would not just be a dishonor to them, but a national disgrace if the President vetoed this bill. This is a pro-veteran piece of legislation, and those of us who served would be highly offended if any Senator voted against it to protect the President’s veto threat.”