Rep. Peters Helps Pass Bill to Increase Veterans Suicide Prevention Funds, Reduce VA Backlog
Apr 30, 2014
Bill also funds local projects to improve Navy operations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) voted to fund necessary military construction projects in San Diego, reduce the veterans benefits backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and modernize VA health records. H.R. 4486 funds military construction and the VA for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins October 1, 2014. After passing the House today 416-1, it now moves to the Senate for action.
“Giving the necessary tools and facilities to our men and women in uniform while they are in the service and keeping our promise to them after they return to civilian life must be a top priority of Congress,” Rep. Peters said. “This bill makes significant progress toward bringing the VA medical system into the 21st century, will help bring down the heartbreaking number of suicides among our vets, and funds needed upgrades at San Diego military facilities. I will not rest until our veterans are getting the response they deserve and the benefits they have earned.”
Congressman Peters has been a consistent advocate for reducing the backlog of veterans benefits claims and this bill provides additional funds to further digitize records and increase processing staff. He has also been pushing for interoperability between Department of Defense and VA medical records, which will finally move forward, under stringent oversight, with funding in this legislation.
Rep. Peters has also been outspoken and active in the fight against the epidemic of suicides among servicemembers and veterans. After advocating for more funding for suicide prevention programs, an additional $20 million was appropriated in the bill.
The three military construction projects Rep. Peters advocated for were each fully funded in the bill. The projects include a steam distribution system decentralization at Naval Base San Diego that replaces an out-of-date and inefficient central steam system; a facility at Coronado’s Naval Special Warfare Group to support dive operations, medical services, and rehabilitation; and a second facility at the Naval Special Warfare Group for gear storage and applied instruction.
Overall, H.R. 4486 allows for $71.499 billion in Fiscal Year 2015 spending, a reduction of $1.8 billion or 2.45% from Fiscal Year 2014, and is within the Murray-Ryan budget framework passed by Congress in December.