12.29.20

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Works to Improve Care for Wisconsin Veterans

Bipartisan year-end government funding legislation includes Baldwin’s bipartisan reforms that do right by veterans and their families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to include a number of measures in the bipartisan FY20 Military Construction-VA Appropriations Bill, which was signed into law as part of government funding legislation at the end of 2020.

“This year-end, bipartisan government funding legislation that was signed into law includes many reforms that I worked for to improve services and care for our veterans. By working across party lines, I was able to secure full funding for the opioid safety initiatives outlined in Jason’s Law, a significant investment for Wisconsin military construction projects, and improvements in care for our Gulf War veterans and veterans who served at the K2 Airbase,” said Senator Baldwin. “There is much more to do, and I am grateful that we are working together to fix problems at the VA and put in place bipartisan solutions that serve our veterans and their families.” 

Jason’s Law

Senator Baldwin worked to include more than $120 million for the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act, or “Jason’s Law.” Signed into law in 2016, Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation earned the support of the Simcakoski family, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, and other veterans service organizations. Jason’s Law is holding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accountable, strengthening oversight of the VA’s opioid prescribing practices and providing safer care for our veterans. 

Supporting Gulf War Veterans

Gulf War Veterans claiming disability get denied at much higher rates than average. In fact, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, only 17 percent of claims get approved.

That is why Senator Baldwin worked to include language that directs the VA to improve approval rates, including studying if eliminating the deadline for claims will increase overall approvals. She also included report language requiring the VA to report on its research findings on Gulf War Illness and make the findings public. 

Prioritizing Military Construction

The bipartisan MILCON/VA Appropriations legislation includes funding for two military construction projects in Wisconsin, including $11.6 million for a National Guard Readiness center in Appleton and $26.2 million for a new range facility at Fort McCoy. 

Exposure to Toxins at Karshi-Khanabad

Senator Baldwin has been working to help veterans who served at Karshi Khanabad (“K2”) Airbase in Uzbekistan. That’s why she secured provisions in the final legislation encouraging the VA to work with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the Department of Defense to collect data, research and analyze any causation or correlation between exposure to toxicant at K2 and cancer or other diseases or illnesses experienced by veterans who served at K2 between October 7, 2001 and November 21, 2005. 

Improving Inspector General Operations

The FY21 MILCON/VA Appropriations bill includes $228 million for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), an increase of $18 million from FY20 enacted amount. This funding will help improve the OIG’s oversight responsibilities over the VA’s budget and initiatives.   

Working to End Veteran Homelessness

In her role on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin has fought for funding to help reduce veteran homelessness in Wisconsin. This legislation includes more than $1.9 billion for VA Homelessness programs, an increase of more than $17 million above President Trump’s request. The bill also includes $420 million for the Supportive Services for Veterans Families grant program.