One federal union says the pay freeze provision in the veterans bill unfairly singles out “the patriotic and dedicated civilian employees” of DoD and VA.
“Among the many crucial support occupations of our DoD civilians are aircraft and tank mechanics, weapons systems analysts, nurses and doctors in military hospitals, and auditors of defense contracts. In (VA) are doctors, nurses, prosthetics interns, blind rehabilitation specialists, psychiatrists and countless other direct patient care providers in VA hospitals,” wrote Beth Moten, legislative and political director for the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 650,000 federal workers, in a letter sent to House members.
The bill — H.R. 5854 — also gives a slight boost to health care spending for veterans and provides more funds for compensation to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with service-related disabilities. About half of the $148 billion measure is for veterans’ pensions and disability payments, including a 20 percent or $10.5 billion increase for these payments.
Of these 1.6 million new vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, 45 percent are claiming service-related injuries.