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Senator Baldwin Delivers for Veterans, Wisconsin Military Families, and National Security in Annual Funding Package

Baldwin successfully included support for Wisconsin military installations, investments for Veteran mental health, and resources to stay ahead of threat of China

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last month, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) helped pass two funding packages into law that deliver for Wisconsin veterans, support Wisconsin servicemembers, military families, and military installations, and keep our country safe.

“Wisconsin’s veterans and military families sacrifice so much to serve their country, and I’m proud to honor that service and ensure they have access to the high-quality benefits and support they deserve,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bipartisan package invests in Wisconsin’s military installations, increases support for critical services veterans rely on, and will help servicemembers and their families afford housing, childcare, and health care, including mental health services. Importantly, Republicans and Democrats came together to invest in our ability to stay ahead of the threat of China and give our military the tools they need to keep our country safe.”

Supporting Wisconsin Veterans

Increasing Support for Veterans: $121 billion for Veteran’s Affairs (VA) medical care, including an increase of $2.3 billion over last year’s funding for additional investment in:

  • Rural Health: $343 million to support improved access to care, including expanded access to transportation and telehealth.
  • Caregivers Program: $2.4 billion to implement the program and extend legacy participant eligibility.
  • Women’s Health: $990 million for gender-specific care, including reproductive care, and to invest in improving facilities.
  • Homelessness Prevention: $3.1 billion to support critical services and housing assistance for veterans and their families experiencing housing insecurity.
  • Mental Health: $16.2 billion, including $559 million for suicide prevention outreach.
  • Child Care: $23 million to expand the Child Care Pilot Program to eliminate barriers for veterans in need of child care while attending medical appointments.

Investing in Senator Baldwin’s Veterans Crisis Line and 988: $300.5 million for the Veterans Crisis Line, which is connected to Senator Baldwin’s three-digit 988 Crisis Line. The bill also directs the VA to ensure appropriate staffing for call centers and backup centers, in addition to providing appropriate training to staff and utilize geolocation capabilities to facilitate emergency dispatch to persons at risk of imminent harm.

Funding Senator Baldwin’s Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act: The legislation includes $254 million for implementation of Senator Baldwin’s Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act, which was signed into law in 2016 to strengthen opioid prescribing guidelines, put in place stronger oversight and accountability, and provide safer and more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans. The funding package includes $715 million total for Opioid Prevention and Treatment programs for veterans.

Supporting County Veteran Service Officers (CVSOs): The bill includes Senator Baldwin’s request to develop a systemic method for facilitating collaboration between CVSOs and local VA benefit providers and encourage VA to track benefits that veterans file for by county to proactively identify barriers to delivering high quality care or other barriers to access. Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach Act, which would expand and support CVSO’s, advanced with unanimous support out of the Senate last year.

Connecting Veterans with Earned Benefits: The bill provides $3.9 billion, a $36 million increase, to help connect veterans with earned benefits, including veterans benefitting from the Baldwin-backed Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. In the first year, nearly 15,000 Wisconsin veterans have filed PACT Act claims, with more than 6,600 veterans already having been approved for expanded benefits. Senator Baldwin voted to pass the PACT Act in 2022.

Investing in Servicemembers and Made in America Economy

Servicemember Pay Increase: Fully funds a 5.2% pay raise for servicemembers and civilians and provides $29.6 billion for military housing and $8.4 billion for subsistence for military families.

Child Care: $167 million to fully fund the Department of Defense’s (DOD) child care initiatives. This includes $33 million to enable DOD to offer a 50% discount for the first child of employees of DOD child development centers to improve recruitment and retention of staff, and it includes $94 million, an increase of $66.5 million over fiscal year 2023, to support full-day universal pre-K and double enrollment from 1,810 to 3,625 children of servicemembers.

Mental Health: $8 million for Air National Guard mental health providers and $5 million for the National Guard Star behavioral health program. The funding package also includes $18.3 million to implement the recommendations of the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee.

Sexual Assault Prevention: $47 million for the Special Victims’ Counsel program to help survivors of sexual assault and $59.2 million for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Humanitarian Demining Research and Development: $14 million for demining technology research. Senator Baldwin is a lead sponsor on the bipartisan Legacies of War Recognition and Unexploded Ordnance Removal Act which authorizes funding for the removal of landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXO) and victim support programs for those injured by landmines and other legacies of war.

Supporting Made in America Economy: The bill directs the Navy to submit a plan to incorporate upfront domestic sourcing requirements for current and future acquisition strategies for shipbuilding programs, in line with Senator Baldwin’s American Made Navy Act. The legislation also directs the Navy to provide a risk assessment and cost estimate for programs that prioritize foreign content over domestic. The bill also includes $50 million to support the frigate program and $221.4 million to support heavy tactical wheeled vehicles, benefitting Made in Wisconsin businesses and workers.

Investing in the Indo-Pacific

Global Readiness: $92 million to improve U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s deterrence. It adds $20 million for the Baltic Security Initiative, for a total of $228 million, and also adds $26.2 million for security cooperation with Taiwan, for a total of $108 million.

Delivering Direct Support for Wisconsin’s Veterans and Military Installations

New Army National Guard Readiness Center in Viroqua: Senator Baldwin successfully secured $18.2 million for a new Army National Guard Readiness Center in Viroqua.

Wisconsin Air National Guard: $7.1 million for construction of an indoor small arms range for use by the 128th Refueling Wing at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Air National Guard: $4.25 million for construction of an underground pipeline to support fuel delivery to the 128th Refueling Wing at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

La Crosse County: $1 million for Hillview Community Services Center, a community services hub to provide housing for unsheltered people and affordable childcare, with a focus on veterans.

“We are extremely grateful to Senator Baldwin for advocating for La Crosse County to secure this grant,” said Monica Kruse, La Crosse County Board Chair. “This funding will have a major positive impact on expediting our project to transform Hillview and support good paying jobs and exceptional services for our community.”