Today, eight national veterans’ organizations signed on to a letter urging Congress to support the Labor, Health & Human Services, & Education Appropriations bill and to override a presidential veto. The following organizations signed the letter. VoteVets.org, Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Coalition for the Homeless, Veterans of Modern Warfare, Help Wounded Heroes, Coalition to Support America’s Heroes, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out.
Text of the Letter:
We, the undersigned veterans and homeless organizations representing millions of American veterans and soldiers deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world, strongly urge you to support the Labor, Health & Human Services, & Education appropriations bill (Labor-HHS) and pledge to override a presidential veto.
Next week Congress will send the President an appropriations package that will fund America’s priorities, everything from national security to our veterans to health, education and job training. It includes the Defense appropriations bill, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs appropriations bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill.
While most veteran-related programs are funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services provide critical services to help veterans, especially the two-thirds of returning veterans who have not enrolled in the federal veterans’ health care program.
This bill contains critical services that America’s veterans, soldiers, and their families depend on when they return home. The president has threatened to veto nearly all appropriations bills that provide more than his FY 2008 budget request, including Labor-HHS. With a Presidential veto looming over this bill these critical services for veterans are at risk.
President Bush has threatened to veto this package because of the inclusion of the Labor-HHS bill. However, that veto would mean cuts in funding for these critical programs:
- $3.4 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which provides mental health and suicide prevention services. Experts believe that conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may put veterans at risk of suicide. Alarmingly, a new report found that Army suicides recently reached a 26 year high.
- $228 million for the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training program to help returning veterans returning find good paying jobs, enforce their rights as veterans seeking employment.
- $23.6 million for the Military veterans that comprise 23 percent of America’s homeless population in the Homeless Veterans Program.
- $10 million to help Americans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) receive emergency and hospital care, rehabilitation, education, and long-term support. Experts say TBI is a signature injury of service in Iraq and that many returning National Guard soldiers will rely on the community-based systems of care funded by the Labor-HHS bill, rather than VA provided care.
We strongly urge you to support the appropriations package that funds ALL veterans programs, including Labor – HHS funding, and pledge to override a presidential veto.
After asking America’s men and women in uniform to serve their country on long deployments, the least we can do is provide for their care here at home.
Iraq Veterans Against the War
National Coalition for the Homeless
Veterans of Modern Warfare
Help Wounded Heroes
Coalition to Support America’s Heroes
Military Families Speak Out
Gold Star Families Speak Out