Thursday, March 08, 2007


Dear Friends,

As the new legislative session begins, the Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs hopes that you will find the attached information useful.

Please also note that the new Committee address is:

The Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs
The State House,
Room 173
Boston, MA 02133-1054
Ph: (617) 722-2877
Fax: (617) 722-9278

All attachments are updated on a periodic basis and subject to change at any time.

Attachment 1: Legislation introduced in the House and Senate related to veterans and military affairs, as of 2/20/07
Attachment 2: House and Senate bills officially referred to the Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs, as of 2/20/07
Attachment 3: Our Fallen Soldiers, as of 2/20/07

Sincerely,

Sarah Keller-Likins
Committee Director
Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs

State House, Room 173
Boston, Massachusetts 02133-1054
ph: (617) 722-2877
fax: (617) 722-9278
sarah.keller-likins@state.ma.us

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*If you would like to be added or removed from the Committee's "Veterans and Military News you Can Use E-newsletter" please email sarah.keller-likins@state.ma.us









3 attachments Download all attachments

2007-2008 Bills related to Veterans Servicemembers and their Families 022007.doc
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Bill Referral and Status List 02-20-07.doc
104K View as HTML Open as a Google document Download

Our Fallen Soldiers 02-20-07.doc
2076K View as HTML Download


Press Release

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THE GENERAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS

JOINT COMMITTEE ON VETERANS & FEDERAL AFFAIRS

Room 173, State House, Boston, MA 02133-1054

Tel. (617) 722-2877 – Fax (617) 722-9278





REPRESENTATIVE ANTHONY J. VERGA SENATOR STEPHEN M. BREWER

5TH ESSEX DISTRICT Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, & Franklin

House Chair Senate Chair



For Immediate Release Please Contact:

March 1, 2007 Sarah Keller-Likins at 617-722-2877

or 617-722-2800 ext. 7633



State Lawmakers Call Upon Congress to Oppose President Bush’s Veterans Budget anD INCREASE FUNDING



Boston - Today 70 state legislators sent a letter to the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation expressing serious concerns about President Bush’s Fiscal Year ‘08 budget recommendation for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While the Bush Administration continues to tout its recommendation of $34.2 billion, an increase of $2 billion over the previous fiscal year, as a “landmark budget,” lawmakers point out that the reality is this 6% increase is barely enough to account for the cost of inflation, let alone the need for improvements in medical care and expansion of services.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 27,000 servicemembers have returned home to Massachusetts. This generation of veterans face a new type of warfare and are in need of unique and specialized services and care. We must give the VA all the tools available to address brain, spinal cord, and sight injuries in addition to the growing need for mental health services according to the letter.

For the past two years, many legislators have joined veterans in a fight to prevent the possible consolidation of the four existing VA medical care facilities in the greater Boston area (Bedford, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and Brockton) into one “mega-plex.” They have argued that the impact of displacing thousands of veterans, removing them from their familiar health care environment and physicians, would have consequences that could not be balanced by the creation of one modernized facility. A study conducted by the VA concluded that Massachusetts facilities needed improvements for medical equipment and upgrades. Lawmakers made it clear that they intend to see if the VA follows its own recommendations with real dollars.

Legislators also expressed disappointment that the President’s proposal could continue to shut Category 8 veterans out of the VA health care system. Category 8 veterans, deemed “high income” veterans by the VA – some who make as little as $28,000 a year – have not been allowed to enroll in the VA health care system since 2003. The VA estimates that 1 million veterans have been turned away since then. Additionally, some Massachusetts veterans could see their prescription co-payments double by the end of this year under President Bush’s proposal.

“It is high time this Administration write out the adequate paychecks these men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, so deserve,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre). If the federal government sends our people overseas, then they have the responsibility to take care of these brave souls.”

“At a time when we are asking Americans to jeopardize their lives for the War on Terror, it is irresponsible to consider cutting services for these individuals and unacceptable that this Administration continues to balance the budget on the backs of our veterans,” said Rep. Anthony Verga, (D-Gloucester) House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs.

Last March, the Veterans Health Administration’s Undersecretary for Health Policy and Coordination stated that some areas of the country did not have any mental health services available and that other areas had such long wait times that certain services were “virtually inaccessible.” Yet a November 2006 report from the General Accounting Office revealed that the VA failed to spend all of the extra $300 million that it was appropriated for mental health services. In recent weeks, the Veterans Administration has been under criticism about the average six-month to two-year wait times veterans are facing before receiving monthly benefits.

Massachusetts continues to be recognized on a national level for the benefits the state provides to its veterans. Congress is expected to take up the budget on the floor in March.





Sarah Keller-Likins
Committee Director/Staff Director
Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs
State House, Room 174
Boston, Massachusetts 02133-1054
ph: (617) 722-2877
fax: (617) 722-9278
sarah.keller-likins@state.ma.us