Tester calls on Bush to ‘get serious’ about funding America’s veterans

Senators demand better funding for vets, military in 2008 budget

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Angered by President Bush's failure to mention America's veterans in his recent State of the Union Address, Montana Senator Jon Tester today joined several of his Senate colleagues to demand better federal funding of the nation's veterans and active military.

After the Capitol Hill news conference Thursday morning, Tester said "there is no explanation or excuse" for President Bush's oversight.  He called on the President to work with Congress to provide critical funding for veterans and current members of the military in his upcoming Fiscal Year 2008 Budget.

"We need to make darn sure the men and women who come home after putting their lives on the line for our country get the health care they need and deserve," Tester said. "It's time for our Commander in Chief to get serious about funding our veterans."

Montana, Tester added, is home to some 108,000 veterans, second only to Idaho in per-capita population.  Tens of thousands of Montanans rely on the Veterans Health Administration for health care.  Many of them consider the program inadequately funded.

During listening sessions with veterans in Missoula and Hamilton last weekend, Tester repeatedly heard about the need for more funding and access to quality health care.

Today's news conference also addressed the urgent need for better protection of U.S. troops currently serving overseas.

"Sending our men and women to the front lines without the best protection possible is downright unacceptable, and I will hold President Bush accountable for making sure our troops out there get what they need," Tester said.

Tester, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, joined senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) for today's news conference.  Iraq war veteran Brady Vanengelen, Steve Robinson of Veterans for America and Joyce Raezer of the National Military Family Association also took part in the news conference.