Vets groups praise advance funds for VA
Published: July 12, 2009
Part of the fiscal 2010 military construction and Veterans Affairs budget bill approved overwhelmingly by the House included a large payout for the VA in fiscal 2011, and could mark the first advance funding for the department in its history.
Veterans groups -- who've made the issue a legislative priority in recent years -- say that's a big deal. It's largely an issue of long-term planning; Funding programs, medical care and benefit rewards depends largely on a steady stream of money, and this effectively pushes the funding deadlines back another 12 months.
But Congress in recent years has been slow with a host of budget bills, including the VA's funds. That complicates things even further, when funding for hospital renovations, money for college tuition benefits, and other projects don't get their official OK until two or three months into the new fiscal year.
The advance funds total nearly $48 million assigned to health care funds. The Senate has offered support for the plan, and will debate the measure in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, veterans groups praised the House's vote on Friday:
AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley: "Today, we took another significant step toward advance VA appropriations. For more than a decade, AMVETS and the Partnership for VA Health Care Budget Reform have called for sufficient, timely and predictable funding for VA health care. Were happy to see that Congress is taking this issue seriously."VFW of the U.S. national commander Glen Gardner Jr.: "This is a huge step forward for disabled veterans, and the historic funding increases the House provides will dramatically improve the healthcare programs our nation delivers to her defenders. The advanced appropriations issue has always been about doing what's right to properly care for our nation's defenders. The Senate knows this, and the VFW is hopeful that they will follow suit and adopt the advanced funding requirement and budget increases in their own MilCon/VA funding package."
American Legion national commander David Rehbein: This additional funding is an 8 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2010 ... This bill put veterans first and is a reminder that this nation cherishes the service and sacrifice of those who have worn the uniform.