Three Delaware military construction projects totaling nearly $30 million are included in the 2008 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that passed the Senate today, according to Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper (both D-Del.).
H.R. 2642 provides a total $109.2 billion for military construction, military family housing and veterans’ affairs programs. It includes $87.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs to meet current and long-term needs for the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It also provides $21.5 billion to renovate and construct military housing and facilities, and to increase the size of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 over the next five years.
The $29.3 million for Delaware projects supported by Sens. Biden and Carper include two at the New Castle County Air Guard Base in New Castle, Del., and one at Dover Air Force Base.
* Air National Guard’s C-130 Aircraft Maintenance Hanger, Phase I, $10.8 million. The 166th Tactical Airlift Wing’s current hangar was built in 1952 and provides only 65 percent of the space needed for C-130 maintenance. The current inadequate facility makes it harder for the unit to do its wartime missions and creates multiple safety hazards for those working on the planes. The inefficient and old systems within the hangar also create expensive operating costs. All of these problems will be fixed by beginning construction of a new facility this year.
* Army National Guard New Joint Forces Headquarters, $1.02 million. The funds will improve operational readiness of the Army and Air National Guard and Naval Reserve and allow them to work together to enhance their overall capability to do both federal and state missions.
* Joint Personal Effects Depot, $17.5 million. The funds will move and upgrade the Army’s Joint Personal Effects Depot to the Dover Air Force Base as part of the most recent Base Realignment and Closure decisions.When members of the U.S. armed forces are killed or die abroad, their personal effects are sent to this depot, which gathers any necessary forensics, does any necessary decontamination, and transfers these effects back to the family of the fallen hero.
“It is essential that units regularly flying in support of our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq have what they need to do their missions. The 166th has flown over 10,000 combat hours, helping to keep front line troops supplied and keeping convoys off dangerous roads. This funding will allow them to do their mission safely and efficiently,” said Sen. Biden. “At a time when there are so many demands on our military and their families, all of these projects will create real operational efficiencies, freeing up assets for other critical needs. It is also crucial in a time of war that we live up to our commitments to the health of our veterans. They deserve the best possible care with the least possible bureaucracy and this bill begins to do that.”
“This targeted funding is a major victory for veterans, soldiers, and their families in Delaware, particularly after our Air National Guard was saved from BRAC closing just two years ago,” Sen. Carper said. “This legislation improves health care, expands mental health services, streamlines and reduces the backlog in the VA benefits process, and repairs and constructs facilities. As a veteran I am especially pleased to see more funding targeted to hire more qualified health care workers, reduce wait times for benefits and increase access at veteran’s facilities like the clinics in Seaford and Millsboro in Sussex County, and another clinic coming soon in Kent County.”