WASHINGTON (November 20, 2009) – The national commander of The American Legion applauds the Senate for their overwhelming support of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 with a resounding 98-0 vote yesterday.  “This legislation will improve the lives of so many veterans and their families,” said National Commander Clarence E. Hill.  “Especially those with serious health care challenges.”

Although the primary focus of the bill is to care givers of severely injured veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this measure addresses other serious issues such as health care for women veterans; dental insurance for certain veterans and their families; mental health care services; veterans’ transition from military to civilian life; health care issues facing veterans in rural areas; enhancement of VA medical services; and homelessness among veterans and their families.

“Timely passage of this bill was absolutely critical,” said Hill.  “This legislation addresses a number of concerns our newest generation of wartime veterans are talking about at Legion Post meetings across the nation.”

“This measure now moves to the House where I am confident Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team will take an aggressive approach toward timely passage,” continued Hill.  “In my recent visit with the Speaker, her commitment to veterans and their families was crystal clear.”

Many of the provisions in this bill were initially blocked by one Senator who exercised his “hold” privileges in order to closely review each provision and determine future costs to the Federal government.  “I have the utmost respect for Senator Coburn and his concerns for fiscal discipline,” remarked Hill. “However, most Americans realize that Federal dollars associated with the medical care and treatment for service-connected disabled veterans and their families is the price of freedom and the ongoing costs of war.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently lifted his “hold” on S. 1963 and offered an amendment to expand the number of eligible caregivers and fund the bill by transferring Federal appropriations going to the United Nations to the Department of Veterans Affairs.  That amendment was soundly defeated 32-66 by his colleagues.