U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted to restore U.S. military readiness and to support our troops and veterans by voting for the conference agreement on H.R. 3222, the Department of Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008.  The legislation passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 400 to 15.

“The strain on our military from the continued conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has caused the worst readiness crisis since the Vietnam war.  Congress acted today to restore the capabilities of our Armed Services and to support our troops and veterans.  We also included funds for Fort Lewis to support the families stationed here and to improve trauma care in our region,” Smith said.

The conference agreement provides $460.3 billion dollars for the Defense Department and includes several investments to strengthen our military, including:

  • A 3.5 percent pay raise for our troops, larger than President Bush requested;
  • Body armor and armored vehicles for troops in Iraq;
  • Funds for depleted National Guard and Reserve equipment; and
  • Improvements in health care and assistance with red tape for wounded veterans. 

The bill also included funds Smith requested for Ft. Lewis-related programs, including:

  • $2,400,000 to expand the “Heroes at Home” pilot program that offers parent education and family support to young military families at U.S. bases including Ft. Lewis.  The program is implemented by the non-profit Parents as Teachers and works with military families throughout pregnancy until their child turns three.  Research indicates that young military families are most impacted by the stresses of military life and separation.  The program currently serves 78 children at Ft. Lewis.
  • $1,000,000 for Tacoma Trauma Trust (TTT) / Madigan Army Medical Center Trauma Assistance Program.  TTT is a partnership of Madigan Army Medicare Center, the MultiCare Health System, and the Franciscan Health System which administers this critical military-civilian emergency health care partnership. TTT helps deliver critical Level II trauma care to South King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston Counties and southwest Washington as well as much-needed trauma training for medical personnel.

Other regional military-related funding requested by Smith and included in the conference report included:

  • $2 million for Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI) to work with the Army to develop and test a new malaria vaccine.  Malaria is the top infectious disease threat to U.S. military forces deployed overseas.  The Gates Foundation also supports SBRI’s work with the Army, as a new vaccine could prevent malaria infection in developing countries around the world.
  • $1 million for targeted radiation cancer therapy at Madigan Army Hospital and the Puget Sound VA. This funding will be used to provide innovative prostate cancer treatment therapy for military personnel and veterans.  Calypso Medical Technologies, a Seattle biomedical company, will carry out this program using their cutting-edge targeted radiation tumor tracking technology. 
  • $1.6 million for high-tech aircraft inspections.  These funds will facilitate the development of advanced systems to perform more efficient and effective airframe maintenance inspections on the Air Force’s C-5 aircraft.  Quest Integrated, Inc. of Kent, WA, will carry out this program with its Induction Thermography System (ITS) technology.
  • $1.6 million for the Systems Biology Biomarker Molecular Toxicology Initiative – Institute of Systems Biology.  "Biomarkers" are various biological indicators of disease states, exposure to environmental insults such as chemicals and toxins, and/or individual susceptibility to pathogens and chemicals.  The U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) studies biomarkers following very low level exposures to chemical nerve agents.  Institute for Systems Biology’s (ISB) innovative work supports RDECOM’s efforts.

Finally, the conference report included a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 14, including funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs at an increased rate over fiscal year 2007 levels.