Military appropriations bill should be passed

Published 11:44 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2016

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, got a first-hand look at the impressive Troy for Troops Center at Troy University on Wednesday, and while there she touted the program and the “deep commitment” to veterans and the military found at both Troy University and in Alabama.

That commitment should come as no surprise. From Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery to Fort Rucker in Ozark, Roby’s district includes key military installations. Here in Pike County, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Support Services Inc. both supply the military, and Troy University caters to military personnel with its global network of campuses on bases. Moreover, dozens of retired military personnel are on the faculty and staff, including the chancellor and other key leadership positions.

And, with nearly a third of its students having a military affiliation, Troy University is deeply committed to those same interests.

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So when Rep. Roby comes to Pike County to visit, her conversations often turn to military issues. On Wednesday, her focus was on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill. That measure, which has passed the House but is being blocked in the U.S. Senate, would enhance veterans’ ability to access healthcare near their communities, by giving them options to VA hospitals and health care facilities. It would have a significant impact on veterans in Alabama, who could reach out to community health networks rather than driving to Montgomery, Atlanta or elsewhere for services.

Roby has been a vocal proponent of the bill, as well as pushing the VA to be more accountable with its $73 billion appropriation, particularly when it comes to paying reimbursements to outside health care providers.

That funding would go a long way towards helping the Veterans Community Health Network she has worked to create here in Alabama, and we believe that network will be a good thing for our veterans in this area.

The Senate needs to put aside the political games and address this vital appropriation bill, for veterans in Pike County, in Alabama and across America.