Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the 110th Congress has won a key victory for America’s veterans by pushing through the largest single funding increase in the 77-year history of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“In the Omnibus Appropriations bill which was signed into law on December 26, 2007 becoming Public Law 110-161, the Democratic-led Congress included a provision appropriating an additional $3.7 billion above the President’s 2008 request for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” Faleomavaega said. “Although at first reluctant to support this increase, yesterday President Bush agreed to release these funds. As a result, the 110th Congress has increased funding for veterans health care and benefits by $6.6 billion above the 2007 level, making this the largest single funding increase in the 77-year history of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
“I commend Chairman Chet Edwards of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies,” Faleomavaega said. “I also commend Chairman David Obey of the Committee on Appropriations and also Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for their leadership.”
“Last year, America voted to take our country in a new direction. Thanks to America’s support, the new Democratic-led Congress has put veterans’ health care on the right track. By increasing the Department of Veterans Affairs budget by an additional $3.7 billion, we are strengthening quality health care for 5.8 million patients, including about 263,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and allowing our nation to invest in much-needed maintenance for VA health care facilities and treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury for returning veterans. Funding will also be used to reduce the backlog of veterans (400,000 claims) waiting for their earned benefits by adding 1,800 claims processors.”
“With a total of $43.1 billion now set aside for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Democratic-led Congress is sending a strong signal that providing quality care and services to our veterans is one of America’s top priorities. At last, America is honoring its commitment to our nation’s veterans and our Democratic-led efforts have won widespread support from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of America, National Association for Uniformed Services and Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, AmVets, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.”
“We appreciate, too, our Republican colleagues who have come on board to support us and I am especially thankful that for the first time in the history of American Samoa we have a community-based VA clinic to serve the needs of our veterans. This VA clinic is only the beginning as I will continue to do everything I can to make sure our veterans have full access to the benefits and services they have earned.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank American Samoa’s veterans for the service they and their families have rendered in protecting our liberties and keeping America’s values strong. I also thank our active duty military men and women who are serving our nation in a time of war. I honor their service and I continue to pray for their safe return. Until they come home, I am with them every step of the way,” Faleomavaega concluded.