Sometime this week, military families and veterans hope to see the Senate vote on the Veterans Omnibus Bill, a fix for multiple problems in the veteran community. Senator Bernie Sanders has been working on this bill for a long time. The CBO says the overall bill will cost a mere $7.6 Billion in 10 years, a pittance compared to the numbers normally coming out of Congress.
Of course, Republicans have yet to show support for the bill because they disagree with the funding, the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. For those of you who have never heard of this money, it is a fund set aside to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The fund was a way for Congress to spend that extra money but escape finding an offset at the same time. Heaven forbid Congress figure out how to pay for two wars.
Senator Sanders believes that funding for the war should include taking care of our veterans. I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, funding future wars should always include the costs of taking care of our veterans so that 12 years after the war has started, we aren't second guessing benefits earned by our military service members. Front loading those expenses would clearly show future veterans that we have their interests at heart. It isn't just about the war but about the people we ask to fight it.
Today, we're needing to prove to the current generation of veterans that promises made in the past really do matter. This bill includes help for victims of military sexual assault, medical care for children suffering from Spina Bifida due to their parents' military service, a renewed contract to retrain veterans so they are more easily employed in the civilian workforce, and a restoration of full COLA to pensions of career military. And that isn't all.
The Senators that have co-sponsored the bill are:
- Sen. Begich, Mark [D-AK]
- Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]
- Sen. Brown, Sherrod [D-OH]
- Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT]
- Sen. Schatz, Brian [D-HI]
- Sen. Landrieu, Mary L. [D-LA]
- Sen. Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-NY]
You'll notice that they are all Democrats. We haven't heard of a Republican Senator willing to co-sponsor this bill nor who have publicly stated that they would vote for this bill as is. And you know what happens when amendments start to get added. We can guarantee that Senator Cruz will go Obamacare ballistic once again, even though the ACA has nothing to do with a Veterans' Omnibus Bill.
I'm asking you to contact your Senator. If they aren't on the list above, please call their staff and ask them to support S.1950. Let them know via Twitter and Facebook that their support is essential. And let them know that you're a civilian. It means the world to those of us in the military community when civilians are vocal in support of us. This single call is the ultimate thank you for your service. It means so much more than the yellow ribbons people place on the backs of their cars because it shows that you really understand the cost of service to our country.
And if you're lucky enough to have a Senator who has already co-sponsored the bill (or is Bernie Sanders himself!), then please call them and say Thank You. Let them know that you appreciate their support of veterans and that this military spouse is grateful for their hard work and dedication.