By Elizabeth Hewitt, VTDigger
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION—A national Veterans Affairs center headquartered in White River Junction is likely to be fully funded in the next fiscal year.
In the version of a budget bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, July 13, the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was fully funded at $40 million.
The Trump administration’s budget request for the center was $19.7 million, according to legislative documents.
The center, headquartered in White River Junction, focuses on researching and developing treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, which can affect veterans who have been through combat or other stressful experiences.
The center, which is a division of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, also works to spread information throughout the country to improve treatment of PTSD among veterans and the general public, according to its website.
The proposal the Senate committee approved last week would put funding for the center at levels equal to the current fiscal year.
The bill, which sets the funding levels for military construction and Veteran’s Affairs, was the first of 12 appropriations bills the committee approved this year. The 31-member committee passed the bill unanimously.
The budget includes $88.9 billion in spending on a wide range of military infrastructure projects and veterans’ services, an increase of $6.1 million over the current fiscal year.
Speaking at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., vice chair of the committee, praised several initiatives in the legislation — including funding for the center in White River Junction.
A parallel budget bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year also includes full funding for the PTSD research center.
Other items in the Senate bill include $9.5 billion for construction of military infrastructure projects such as housing for military families and operational facilities.
It also increases the money available for medical services through the VA by $1.9 million, for a total of $46.8 billion.
There was strong support for the legislation in the committee last week, with lawmakers on both ends of the political spectrum praising the bill.
The bipartisan vote played out against a backdrop of uncertainty and turmoil surrounding the larger budget picture.
Typically, each chamber’s budget committee set spending limits for the next fiscal year. However, neither the House nor Senate has yet approved budget numbers for fiscal year 2018.