WASHINGTON, DC – Alaskan Congressman Don Young today voted in support of H.R. 2216, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act which passed the U.S. House of Representatives 421 - 4. The bill includes $73.3 billion in discretionary funding which supports critical Department of Defense infrastructure and allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to serve the approximately 49 million veterans, family members, and survivors of deceased veterans.
“The legislation passed today will begin the work to finally defeat the VA backlog. For too long, this backlog has weighed on the shoulders of our veterans, the very people who have shouldered the load of protecting our country and our way of life. It is offensive for any veteran to have to wait hundreds of days for benefits and care they earned defending our freedoms,” Rep. Young said. “I am hopeful that this bill will begin the process of unraveling the VA backlog so that we as a nation can fulfill our responsibility to take care of those who have taken care of us."
“I am also pleased that Alaska will see over 200 million dollars in much needed military construction within interior Alaska. The missile defense upgrades at Ft. Greely and Clear Air Force Base are long overdue, and I am happy that the Administration finally supports the upgrades we need to protect this country from threats like North Korea.”
Alaska Specific Military Construction Projects:
- Fort Wainwright: Provides funding for an aviation battalion complex ($45 million) and an aviation storage hanger ($58 million).
- Clear Air Force Base: Provides funding for upgrades to the Ballistic Missile Defense System Early Warning Radar ($17.2 million).
- Fort Greely: Provides funding for a mechanical electrical building for Missile Field 1 ($82 million).
- VA/Native Health Agreements: Continues to allow veterans who reside in rural Alaska to obtain medical services (including behavioral and dental) from medical facilities supported by the Indian Health Service or tribal organizations, and provides for reimbursement for those services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
VA Specific Items:
- Imposes a 25% pay cut for senior VA officials if the number of backlogged cases is not reduced by 40% by July 1, 2014
Provides $155 million for a paperless claims process system to address the backlog of disability claims and $136 million for digital scanning of health records and benefits.