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Skelton says Congress made significant accomplishments for military veterans
Skelton says Congress made significant accomplishments for military veterans

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 12, 2009) — As chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, I have been pleased with the significant bipartisan accomplishments the 111th Congress has made for our veterans and their families. Our Armed Forces and their families sacrifice a tremendous amount for this country. And, we have a moral obligation to honor them and make sure they have the resources they need before, during, and after their service.

In this Congress, one of the House Armed Services Committee’s finest achievements on behalf of veterans was passing H.R. 2647, the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, in the House of Representatives. This legislation would address our nation’s defense priorities by restoring our military’s readiness and addressing quality of life issues for our service members and their families. The bill would provide a 3.4 percent pay raise for service members, strengthen efforts to expand mental health care for troops, and improve military housing.

Another key component to Congress’s work for veterans has been securing timely health care funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). In June, the House approved the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, authorizing Congress to approve veterans’ medical care funding one year in advance to better anticipate and meet the demand for veterans’ health care services.

Since January, the House has also approved legislation to expand and improve VA health care services for the 1.8 million women who have bravely served our country, voted to increase veterans’ disability payments to reflect cost-of-living increases, and approved a bill I introduced that would expand military retirement and VA disability benefits to disabled military retirees with less than 20 years of service. Congress has enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that included a measure that provides tax credits to businesses hiring veterans and approved a measure to extend Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to children of members of the Armed Forces who die while on active duty.

As we work to enhance services for our service men and women, we must also remember our Armed Forces are not the only ones who shoulder the burden of war — today, nearly two million military families are sharing in that burden. So, in February, I introduced and the House approved a resolution, urging the President to designate 2009 as the “Year of the Military Family.” By approving this resolution, we recognize and uphold the contributions that military families make and encourage the nation to share its appreciation for the sacrifices military families give on behalf of our country.

Our nation’s veterans and their families deserve a government that is committed to the same values that they fought to preserve and a government that is willing to do whatever it takes to make this a country that is worthy of their sacrifices. We cannot forget the debt we owe those who serve the United States so nobly. The dedication of our men and women in uniform makes our nation strong and keeps us free.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at http://www.house.gov/skelton.

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