U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today announced that the Fiscal Year 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, which was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee late yesterday afternoon, includes $190 million to improve Tennessee’s military infrastructure and aid the nation during this time of war.
The bill also includes increased levels of funding for veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a total of $94.8 billion, an increase of $7.3 billion over the FY08 level and the Veterans Affairs Medical Services Administration, which operates Veterans Affairs medical centers and other facilities, will receive $35.59 billion, an increase of $6.5 billion over the FY08 level.
“The troops serving our country, their families and our veterans all deserve the best we can give them as a nation,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This bill will enhance the equipping, training and security of our men and women in uniform while also providing needed resources and support to the families and veterans who have given so much to this country.”
“As always, I am tremendously impressed with the professionalism and commitment of our men and women in uniform. It is incredibly moving to be in their presence and see the work they are doing on a daily basis on our behalf, and I was proud to support these projects to ensure that we are giving our service members and their families the best possible resources and infrastructure,” said Corker. “I’m also very pleased that this bill includes increased funding to help the Department of Veterans Affairs launch a new outreach initiative recognizing the health care needs of veterans who live in rural areas, including Tennessee.”
Key Tennessee projects funded in the Senate version of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act include:
• $10 million for the School-Aged Services Center at Fort Campbell. This facility will provide before and after school care for children of our military families during the duty day. This facility supports troop readiness by reducing lost duty time due to conflict between parent responsibilities and unit mission requirements. At present, Fort Campbell’s requirement is being met by sharing space in a Youth Center and using gyms and cafeterias of five elementary schools after school has been dismissed.
• $8 million to help replace squadron operations and relocate security perimeter for the Tennessee Air National Guard at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville. Squadron operations serve as the United States Air Force (USAF) command post and base operations center for intelligence briefings/debriefings, standardization and evaluation of missions, flight planning, and unit administration. Funding will be used to relocate the security perimeter and will allow the base to meet current AT/FP (Antiterrorism/Force Protection) standards.
• $630,000 for a Chapel Center at Fort Campbell. Currently, Fort Campbell only has one-third the number of chapels they require and three of the current chapels are 65-year-old temporary wooden buildings. The new chapel facility would help support the 72 chaplains who perform 17 religious services weekly in conjunction with other regular weekly programs.
In addition, $170.5 million was included in the bill for Fort Campbell and the Army Reserves:
• $47 million for the Vehicle Maintenance Facility (UEx) at Fort Campbell
• $37 million for the Battalion Operations Complex for the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell
• $24 million for the Medical/Dental Clinic on base at Fort Campbell
• $21.4 million for a new elementary school at Fort Campbell
• $15.5 million for the Training Support Center at Fort Campbell
• $15 million for the Tactical Equipment Shop at Fort Campbell
• $10.6 million for the Army Reserve Center in Chattanooga
The FY09 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act must now be considered by the full United States Senate.