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Mikulski Applauds Senate Passage of FY2010 Defense Authorization Bill
WASHINGTON, DC - 7/29/2009
On July 27, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) applauded Senate passage of the fiscal year 2010 Defense Authorization Bill. The legislation protects Americans serving on the battlefield, improves military healthcare, keeps promises made to wounded warriors, improves military quality of life and keeps BRAC on track in Maryland.
“We must support our troops with the equipment they need on the battlefield, the benefits and services they deserve when they return home, and support for their families on the home front,” Senator Mikulski said. “This bill provides our service members with what they need to complete their missions and return home safely to their families and communities.”
The next step in the legislative process is to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of bill. The House and Senate must then vote to accept the final bill. The vote has not yet been scheduled, but is expected sometime in September.
Protecting the Troops: Improvised Explosive Devices are the single biggest killer of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill provides $2.1 billion for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization to counter the IED network, train deploying units and acquire counter IED equipment. It provides advanced armored vehicles to protect troops from roadside IEDs. It also authorizes an increase of 30,000 additional soldiers for the Army to help reduce the strain of repeated Iraq and Afghanistan deployments on existing forces.
Improving Quality of Life for Military Families: “It has been said time and again, that while we recruit the soldier into the military, we must retain the family,” Mikulski said. “This is especially true in this time of great stress on our military. This bill recognizes and responds to this reality.”
The bill improves quality of life for military families by:
- providing a 3.4 percent across the board cost-of-living adjustment in pay;
- increasing the supplemental subsistence allowance from $500 a month to $1,100 and requiring the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to ensure service members and families don’t have to turn to food stamps to survive;
- authorizing $45 million in supplemental educational aid to local school districts affected by military families, including $30 million in IMPACT aid to local schools, $10 million for communities hard hit by BRAC, and $5 million for educational services for children with severe disabilities;
- Expanding TRICARE dental care coverage to surviving children and enhancing dental care for reserve members on active duty for 30 days; and
- Requiring an assessment of case management for behavioral health care under TRICARE.
Military Health Care and Supporting Wounded Warriors: “This bill ensures that promises made to members of our military are promises kept,” said Mikulski.
The bill extends TRICARE eligibility and some dental benefits to National Guard members and emphasizes behavioral health, including one-on-one mental health assessments for deployed soldiers. This bill requires DoD to train the medical workforce needed to properly prevent and screen for post-traumatic stress disorder and prevent suicide. It also requires DoD to assess treatment strategies for traumatic brain injuries.
The bill also takes a critical step in ensuring a smooth transition of care for soldiers from the military’s medical system to the Veterans Administration medical system, including timely processing of disability and benefits claims by directing DoD to devise strategies for electronic medical record exchanges between the two systems.
Keeping BRAC on Track in Maryland: “BRAC brings great opportunities, but it also brings great challenges. This bill provides resources to help keep BRAC on track in Maryland in 2010, and bring tens of thousands of new jobs to the State,” Mikulski said.
Mikulski was a leader in the fight to prepare Maryland communities and military bases for the 2005 BRAC process. The BRAC Commission's recommendations were a huge success and will bring 45,000 to 60,000 new jobs and new sources of revenue to the state by 2020.
The Defense Authorization Bill authorizes all of Maryland’s fiscal year 2010 BRAC projects that total $459 million to help keep BRAC on track in the state.
More than $133.8 million will be available for the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for the following BRAC projects:
- $108.9 million for the third phase of construction of the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center hospital. This funding will keep construction on track so new patients will have the world class facilities they deserve when they started coming to Bethesda following the scheduled closure of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
- $18.4 million to mitigate traffic hot-spots at the entry control on South Wood Road. This will help traffic flow smoothly on and off the base so patients, care providers and administrators can travel safely to and from the expanded health care campus.
- $6.5 million for infrastructure and other site upgrades to support the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. This new facility will provide cutting edge Traumatic Brain Injury care for wounded warriors recovering at Bethesda.
Fiscal year 2010 funds also will be available for BRAC projects at military facilities across Maryland:
• $156 million to continue construction on C4ISR Center of Excellence buildings at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. These facilities will accommodate nearly 8,000 new jobs coming to the Aberdeen Proving Ground from Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
- $131.6 million to continue construction of the new Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) headquarters complex at Fort Meade. The new facility will consolidate six leased buildings around the National Capitol Region under one roof and bring approximately 4,300 new jobs to Maryland.
- $17 million in BRAC funding for a Defense Media Activity building at Fort Meade to consolidate all Department of Defense media organizations.
- $12.2 million to relocate the Armed Force Institute of Pathology activities from Washington, D.C., to Forest Glen, Maryland.
- $8.3 million for Joint Bio-Med Research and Development Management Center at Fort Detrick. This funding will help consolidate other facilities in leased space throughout the National Capital Area and will support the National Interagency Bio-Defense Campus mission of protecting Americans at
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