In This Issue
1. Support Needed for Advance Funding Bill
2. Final Stimulus Includes Funding for VA
3. Afghanistan Force Deployment
1. Support Needed for Advance Funding Bill: Senate VA Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) reintroduced advance funding legislation last week that is a VFW priority goal. The bill, "Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009," currently has 10 cosponsors in the Senate for S. 423, and 18 cosponsors in the House for HR 1016, but many more are needed to get the bill moving. Please contact your senators and representatives and ask them to sign-on to the bill. Remind your elected officials that advance funding will enable the VA to better serve all veterans using the system.
To read the VFW press release, go to: http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=4924
To contact your congressional members, go to: http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/
2. Final Stimulus Includes Funding for VA: The final economic stimulus package signed by the President includes sizeable increases for VA construction projects and military troop housing. It also provides a special one-time payment of $250 dollars to Social Security recipients and certain service-connected disabled veterans. Those eligible for the payment, and who also qualify for the federal income tax rebate (up to $400 for singles and $800 if married), would have the $250 dollars offset from the final tax credit. Details will be finalized in the coming weeks on the respective Social Security, VA and IRS websites. Below are the final amounts the stimulus plan provides for DOD and VA:
* State Extended Care Facilities: $150 million for Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities.
* Claims Processing: $150 million for a temporary increase to claims processing staff.
* Veterans Medical Facilities: $1 billion for VA medical facilities. The VA had identified a $5 billion backlog in needed repairs at its 153 medical facilities, to include energy efficiency projects.
* Veterans Cemeteries: $50 million to put people to work making monument and memorial repairs at cemeteries for American heroes.
* Medical Facilities: $1.3 billion for new construction to provide state-of-the-art medical care to service members and their families.
* Facility Renovations: $4.2 billion to invest in energy efficiency projects, and to repair and modernize DOD facilities, to include $400 million to improve military medical facilities and $153 million to restore Army barracks.
* Housing for Troops and Their Families: $890 million to improve military family housing, and to provide aid to re-stationing military homeowners.
* Child Development Center: $240 million for new child development centers.
* National Guard: $100 million for new construction to support Guard and Reserve units across the country, to include operations and training facilities, and utilities infrastructure.
3. Afghanistan Force Deployment: Pursuant to President Obama's decision, Secretary Gates ordered the deployment of two additional combat units, totaling more than 12,000 troops, to Afghanistan. The 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade from Camp Lejeune, NC, with approximately 8,000 Marines, will deploy to Afghanistan in late spring. The 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, WA, will deploy approximately 4,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in mid-summer. The Stryker and Marine brigades are being deployed to increase the capabilities of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Approximately 5,000 additional troops to support these combat forces will also receive deployment orders at a later date. U.S. forces are still providing the majority of manpower for the ISAF / NATO operation. The U.S. government continues to call on coalition partners to increase their support of the ISAF by providing more troops for the war in Afghanistan.