Murkowski Announces Funding for Alaska Projects in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The Defense Department would spend nearly $336 million in military construction on Alaska’s Army and Air Force installations in Fiscal Year 2010 under a $133.9 billion Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill approved today by a Senate subcommittee, according to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a member of the panel. The legislation now goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
The bill, approved by the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, includes $13.3 million in spending on Eielson Air Force Base that was not requested by the Obama administration but was included at Murkowski’s request.
The bill also includes explicit authority, requested by Murkowski, for the Veterans Administration to enter into agreements with the Alaska Native Health System and Community Health Centers to provide medical, dental and behavioral health care to veterans who live in rural Alaska.
It would provide $50 million nationally to site new VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics in “rural and highly rural” communities. And for the first time, appropriators provided $48.2 million in advance appropriations for Veterans Administration medical accounts for Fiscal Year 2011, a move widely sought by veterans’ organizations and endorsed by Murkowski.
The $13.3 million for Eielson Air Force Base provides $9.9 million for the completion of Arctic Utilidors and $3.45 million to light Taxiway Golf. Taxiway Golf currently must close after dark and during low visibility conditions. The project would allow for an increased operations tempo during Red Flag Alaska exercises and reduce the potential for airfield accidents. The spending bill also would provide $46 million in construction improvements for housing privatization at Fort Richardson and $52 million at Fort Wainwright.
“This bill is great news for Alaska veterans,” Murkowski said. “Our veterans have long been concerned that Congress has not funded VA health care sufficient to meet the increasing demand and that the VA appropriations bill has not been completed before the beginning of the October 1 federal fiscal year. This bill sets the precedent that the VA will receive two years of health care funding each year, which has been a top priority for many veterans groups.
“The bill also clarifies that the VA can partner with the Alaska Native Health System and Community Health Centers to serve our veterans living in rural Alaska where the VA has no health care facilities. I am encouraged by the conversations I have had with VA Secretary Shinseki that suggest that the VA is finally getting serious about ensuring that our veterans who live off the road system are not disenfranchised from accessing their earned veterans benefits.”
The bill provides funding for the following Alaska items:
Fort Richardson
Warrior in Transition Complex                                   $43.0 Million
Airborne Sustainment Training Complex                $ 6.1 Million
Combat Pistol Range                                                 $ 4.9 Million
Health Clinic                                                                 $ 3.5 Million
Training Aids Center                                                   $ 2.0 Million
Elmendorf Air Force Base
Aeromedical Services/Mental Health Clinic             $25.0 Million
F-22 Weapons Load Training Facility                       $12.6 Million
Red Flag Alaska Operations Center                         $ 3.1 Million
Clear Air Force Station
Power Plant Facility                                                  $24.3 Million
Fort Wainwright
Aviation Task Force Complex, Phase I                    $125 Million
Warrior in Transition Complex                                  $ 28 Million
Railhead Complex                                                     $ 26 Million
Aviation Unit Operations Complex                            $ 19 Million
Eielson Air Force Base
Arctic Utilidors (Phase 11)                                        $ 9.9 Million
Taxiway Golf Lighting                                               $ 3.4 Million
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