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Murkowski’s Committee Work Delivers Veterans Care, Military Construction

Senator Lisa Murkowski today secured a number of provisions in the FY2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill that will deliver significant advancements in “Care Closer to Home” for Alaska’s veterans community – including internal reviews of improvements needed to better deliver medical care in state. Funding secured by Senator Murkowski will result in over $18 million for firing range construction work at both Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright.

The bill passed out of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies today and heads to the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

Prior to the bill’s passage, Senator Murkowski shared her appreciation for the Alaska provisions with subcommittee colleagues, saying “Far more often than not, a veteran in Alaska is required to travel a thousand miles to Seattle or beyond for a level of care that is able to be provided within the state. What we’ll be able to do [with this study] is better work with our veterans and VA in providing for the care they need… We also have a provision relating to Indian Health Service and the VA collaboration, because we have silos between one agency and the other – when veterans can’t get care closer to home.”

Click HERE for audio of her subcommittee remarks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bYEyEI68o0&feature=youtu.be

Alaska-specific priorities addressed within the bill:

Improving Veterans Care

  • The bill requires that a study be done determining the exact reasons and difficulties that lead to veterans being sent to the Lower 48 for medical care – with the end goal being that fewer veterans are displaced for care available in Alaska.
  • The bill placed a November 1st deadline on a VA report detailing progress made in IHS/VA partnerships, including the landmark agreement announced by the VA last week.

Military Construction

  • $18.3 million is allotted for facilities construction in Alaska
    • $10.4 million for a Fort Wainwright modified record fire range
    • $7.9 million for a modified record fire range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson

National priorities that affect Alaska’s veteran community within the bill:

Homeless Veterans Programs:

  • $5.76 billion for health care and support services for homeless veterans.  This includes $1.35 billion in direct programs to assist homeless veterans.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans:

<>·$3.28 billion to meet the health care needs of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, a $510 million increase over fiscal year 2012.  This funding includes medical treatment associated with combat-related injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

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