As President Obama has often stated, one of the chief goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by the President on February 17, is to create jobs by putting Americans to work doing the work that America needs done. The long-neglected infrastructure needs of both our military and veterans' facilities, as the Walter Reed scandal highlighted, require swift action. That is why this legislation identifies and funds some of the most pressing infrastructure needs of the military and VA. Funding these infrastructure projects will create tens of thousands of new jobs, along with taking another step in keeping our promises to our troops and veterans. This legislation also includes other key provisions - including giving businesses tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans and providing disabled veterans a payment of $250. In addition, it includes other provisions to improve the lives of our troops and veterans, such as funding additional child care centers and warrior transition centers for wounded warriors returning from combat.
Improving the Quality of Life for Our Troops
- Renovating and Making More Energy-Efficient DOD Facilities: Provides $4.2 billion to invest in energy efficient projects and to repair and modernize a variety of Department of Defense facilities.
- Improving the Hospitals for Our Troops: Provides $1.3 billion for rebuild and renovate our aging military hospitals and ambulatory care centers. Many of these facilities are 40 or even 50 years old, and are not suited to current medical standards and practices.
- Providing Assistance to Military Homeowners: Provides $555 million for assistance to military homeowners, including wounded warriors and surviving spouses, who have been impacted by the housing crisis.
- Improving Troop and Family Housing: Provides $335 million to build new barracks and dormitories for our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen as well as to make further investments in quality family housing for military families.
- Expanding Child Care for Military Families: Provides $240 million for new child development centers on military bases across the country. These facilities will help military spouses hold down jobs and will provide employment opportunities for caregivers.
- Establishing Warrior Transition Complexes: Provides $100 million for warrior transition complexes to provide services to wounded warriors returning from combat and their families.
- Constructing Needed Facilities for the National Guard: Provides $100 million for new construction of operations and training facilities to support National Guard units across the country.
Improving the Quality of Life for Our Veterans
- Providing Businesses A Tax Credit for Hiring Unemployed Veterans: Provides a tax credit to businesses for hiring unemployed veterans. Specifically, veterans would qualify if they were discharged or released from active duty from the Armed Forces during the previous five years and received unemployment benefits for more than 4 weeks before being hired.
- Providing Disabled Veterans A Payment of $250: Provides a payment of $250 to all disabled veterans receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. (This $250 payment, which also goes to retirees, SSI beneficiaries and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, is targeted to those who are likely not to benefit from the Making Work Pay tax credit.)
- Improving the Hospitals for Our Veterans: Provides $1 billion for non-recurring maintenance, including energy efficiency projects, to address deficiencies and avoid serious maintenance problems at the 153 VA hospitals across the country.
- Increasing the Number of VA Claims Processors: Provides $150 million for an increase in VA claims processing staff, in order to address the large backlog in processing veterans' claims. This backlog has been a key complaint of veterans across the country.
- Improving Automation of VA Benefit Processing: Provides $50 million to improve the automation of the processing of veterans' benefits, to get benefits out sooner and more accurately.
- Constructing Extended Care Facilities for Veterans: Provides $150 million for state grants for the construction of additional extended care facilities for veterans.