"Promises made to our veterans must be promises kept."
BALTIMORE - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today met with veterans' leaders from Maryland at the Baltimore Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center to discuss legislative and budget priorities for the year. The Senator highlighted the passage last week of an amendment to the FY2007 Senate budget resolution, which ensures widows are able to collect both Survivor Benefits (SBP) and the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Senator Mikulski joined Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in fighting for this important funding for survivors of troops killed while on active duty and survivors of 100 percent disabled military retirees.
"There are now more than 200,000 Americans serving overseas in difficult and dangerous circumstances to keep America safe. But support for our military in the field must be matched by support for our veterans at home," said Senator Mikulski. "We must honor their service and sacrifice with deeds, not just words. That means making sure military families are supported with adequate health care and financial services to keep them strong."
Under current law, SBP annuity payments are reduced by the amount of the VA's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program. Most surviving spouses of 100 percent disabled military retirees and service members killed on active duty find that the DIC benefit completely offsets the SBP income they should be getting. The amendment would provide funding to eliminate the offset and ensure that military survivors get the benefits they deserve.
The Senator also discussed her ongoing advocacy for improved veterans services, benefits and facilities in Maryland.
"Promises made to our veterans must be promises kept. They represent America's payment of a debt we owe our brave veterans for their service - a debt that can never be fully repaid," said Senator Mikulski. "We can do this by giving them the same quality of service they gave us, and by providing them with the care they deserve. That's why I work hard to make sure veterans have access to the health care they were promised and remain strong in my commitment to veterans' programs and veterans' services."
The Senator highlighted her successful effort to pass legislation prohibiting veterans convicted of a federal or state capital offense from receiving burial benefits and funeral honors. The amendment to the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill, cosponsored with Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), closed a loophole that has allowed convicted murderers to receive full burial honors at national military cemeteries like Arlington National Cemetery.