Rooney Votes to Boost Programs for Florida's Veterans and National Defense Infrastructure
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17), a senior member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs supported the House Appropriations Committee’s unanimous passage of the MILCON/VA funding bill, which will support our nation’s defense infrastructure and improve programs for veterans, troops, and military families.
“I proudly represent over 78,000 veterans living in Florida’s 17th District,” Rooney said. “This bill goes a long way to ensuring the programs that our veterans rely on for care are fully funded and are operating efficiently. Today, the bill passed by this Committee honors our nation’s promise to provide care to those who have served. Additionally, this bill ensures that those who serve and fight in our uniform every day have the tools and resources they need to accomplish their mission. This includes funding for programs that will provide those who stand in harm’s way with peace of mind that their families will be taken care of and looked after.”
“I’m particularly glad that our bill includes a number of requests that I made to continue improving mental health care for our veterans. We have made tremendous progress, but we must keep working to expand access, improve the quality of veteran’s care, and continue researching effective and innovative treatments.”
Requests to improve VA services submitted by Rooney and accepted by the Committee include:
- Urging the VA to improve its capacity to conduct clinical trials and partner with comprehensive cancer centers, like Moffitt Cancer Center, to enroll veterans in innovative treatment trials.
- Encouraging the VA to study the feasibility of allowing veterans to use mobile technologies to conduct appeals hearings from a place of their choosing, such as their home.
- Directing VA facilities to implement the VA’s final rule granting full practice authority to advanced practice registered nurses.
- Providing $40 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, which sets the VA’s agenda for research and education on PTSD.
- Providing $7.4 billion for VA programs that provide the homeless with assistance and medical treatment.
- Providing $174 billion to help reduce the veteran’s disability claims backlog.
- $8.6 billion for mental health programs, including $196.1 million for suicide prevention outreach.
- $1.2 billion for the new VA electronic health record system, with conditions to improve oversight and monitor program implementation.
The bill also funds several Florida military construction projects, including:
- Navy—Mayport (LCS Operational Training Facility Add-on - $29.1 million, LCS Support Facility - $82.35 million)
- Air Force—Eglin AFB (F-35A Integrated Training Center - $34.86 million, F-35A Student Dorm II - $28 million), MacDill AFB (KC135 Beddown Flight Sim Training - $3.1 million)
In total, the bill provides $96.9 billion in discretionary funding – $4.2 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level – to continue to rebuild the military, provide funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, and ensure adequate resources for military families. The bill also provides robust funding for veterans’ benefits and programs. This includes increases for health care, benefit claims processing, the Board of Veterans Appeals, medical and prosthetic research, and information technology. Military construction is increased by $241 million over the fiscal year 2018 enacted level, which allows for full funding of family housing, construction of hospitals and health facilities, and support for critical overseas investments.