Congresswoman Chellie Pingree used her position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee to get numerous provisions into a defense bill that will help veterans, including those seeking care in the VA, homeless female veterans, veterans who need service dogs and the families of veterans. Pingree also was able to insure that the bill contains $75 million in funding to maintain and modernize the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
"The men and women who have put on a uniform and served this country deserve the best health care available and the right kind of support when they make the transition back to civilian life. But the sad truth is they don't always get that," Pingree said. "We need to keep pushing the VA to improve programs like VA Choice and provide services to homeless vets and vets who are risk of becoming homeless."
Pingree was able to insert language into the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act to direct the VA to
Provide equal treatment and assistance to homeless female veterans and their children;
Hire outside contractors to improve access to the VA Choice program in underserved areas; and
Expand research into the use of service dogs to treat veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
Pingree also used her position on the Committee to secure funding for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
"The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is one of the most efficient and best run in the country. They maintain the highest standards and stay on budget and on schedule. But to remain competitive and to protect the jobs in Kittery, we need to make sure the yard has the resources to modernize and maintain the facilities there," Pingree said.
Pingree was able to support the inclusion of over $75 million in the bill, including:
· $27 million to replace a century-old medical and dental clinic;
· $30 million to build an electrical substation and improve utilities needed to protect nuclear subs; and
· $18 million to expand housing to accommodate Naval personnel stationed in Kittery.
The bill was passed by the House Appropriations Committee today, but still must be taken up by the full House.