Georgia Rep. Bishop Speaks Out in Support of Funding for Veterans

Cindy Morley

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

To read all of InsiderAdvantage Georgia’s daily news, SUBSCRIBE HERE. *Subscription includes a complimentary subscription to JAMES Magazine.

Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02) says he is working to ensure that Georgia’s veterans are taken care of. Late last week, Bishop voted in support of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 MilCon/VA appropriations bill – a bipartisan collaboration that provides $279.9 billion for programs and represents an increase of $28.1 billion – more than 10 percent – above 2021. The bill now advances to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“We must care for those who have borne the battle as well as their families. I am proud to say that this bill significantly increases funds for our VA system so that new facilities, like those which will serve my district and others across the country, can meet the growing needs of our veterans,” said Congressman Bishop, Vice Chair of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon/VA) Appropriations Subcommittee. “Many of them return home bearing the visible and invisible wounds of war. This bill also targets funds to improve mental health services, deal with the fallout of exposure to toxic substances, reduce homelessness among our veteran community, and grow our VA resources to better serve women — the fastest growing cohort within the veteran community.

“This bill also makes important investments in our military families by providing the funds needed to improve housing, provide services like childcare, and addressing quality of life challenges a large institution like our military faces.”

Fort Benning, near Columbus, will receive $13.2 million for barracks construction. The bill also commits $1.423 billion for Family Housing, an increase of $87 million above the 2021 level and the same as the budget request. Within this amount, Family Housing Support and Management is funded at $116.2 million to address issues such as mold, vermin, and lead in military family housing.

According to Bishop, this bill includes $307 million for Rural Health Initiatives, an increase of $7 million above the 2021 level and equal to the President’s budget request. The bill also provides $213 million for Child Development Centers, of which $33 million is for planning and design for future facilities, and in total is $193 million above the FY 2022 budget request. The funds will support increased capacity and better facilities for the 1.2 million children of active duty service members worldwide.

The bill also dedicates $13.2 billion for Mental Healthcare, an increase of $2.9 billion over 2021 and $1 million above the President’s budget request, including $599 million for suicide prevention outreach. “This will support the nearly 2 million veterans who receive mental health services in a VA specialty mental health setting, as well as support suicide prevention services which saw an increase in demand by over 59 percent in the last year,” Bishop said.

The bill includes $621 million for Opioid Abuse Prevention, which will allow for more targeted funding of pain management and opioid safety programs primarily at the facility level.

Bishop reported that the most recent homelessness survey showed that on a given night in January 2020, an estimated 37,252 veterans nationwide were experiencing homelessness and this bill provides $2.2 billion for Homeless Assistance Programsto enhance VA’s ability to reach homeless veterans.