July 25, 2006
On July 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its version of the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Appropriations bill (HR 5385) that includes FY 2007 funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and health care programs in the Department of Defense (DoD).
The House passed its version of the FY 2007 Military Quality of Life and Veterans Appropriations bill back on May 19. It is unclear when the full Senate will take up the measure. As in the House, there is strong support in the Senate for additional investments to increase the capacity of both the VA and DoD to meet the mental illness treatment needs of veterans and active duty personnel.
NAMI is especially grateful for the leadership of Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Military Quality of Life and Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee that drafted this important legislation. Their efforts are a major step forward in putting increased resources into the important treatment and support needs of veterans living with mental illness and early intervention needs for soldiers at risk of psychiatric disorders.
The Senate version of HR 5385 includes a total allocation of $28.689 billion for FY 2007 for VA medical services – the same amount allocated in the House bill. This is nearly $2.64 billion above current FY 2006 levels, but $100 million below the President’s request. However, when supplemental funds that were previously added for FY 2006 are taken into account, the total appropriated in House bill is $2.865 billion above current levels.
For medical research in the VA, the Senate version of HR 5385 appropriates $412 million for FY 2007. This is the same amount allocated for the current fiscal year, and $13 million more than was requested by the President.