Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee Moves Resolution Supporting Pennsylvania Military Bases


Committee also extends bonus for Persian Gulf Veterans and supports Merchant Marine Bonus

Today, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee unanimously reported three measures important to Pennsylvania’s military installations and veterans’ community, according to Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), Chairman of the Committee.

House Bill 175, sponsored by Representative Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill), extends the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Benefit Act.  Initially passed in 2006, the Act provides up to a $525 bonus to any veteran of the Conflict.  The period to apply for the bonus is to end on August 31, 2015; however, not all eligible veterans have applied.  As such, HB 175 would extend the Act until August 31, 2018.

“In 2006, Pennsylvania voters approved up to $20 million for bonuses for or Persian Gulf Veterans,” said Sen. Vulakovich.  “With additional time and focus, we can get the word out about this program.  Persian Gulf veterans can go to www.persiangulfbonus.state.pa.us or call 1-866-458-9182 for more information.”

Senate Resolution 148, sponsored by Senator Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), urges Congress to pass H.R. 563, the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund.  Despite having the highest casualty rate of any branch of the military in World War II, Merchant Marines were the only branch of the military that never received a bonus.  HR 563 would provide surviving merchant marines a $25,000 bonus.

“In 2006, Pennsylvania enacted a bonus program for Merchant Marines,” said Sen. Vulakovich.  “With less than 5,000 living Merchant Marines from World War II, it is high time that Congress follows suit.”

Senate Resolution 149, sponsored by Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria), calls on the U.S. Army to reverse its decision to deactivate the 55th Armored Brigade Combat Team based in Scranton and to reverse its decision to transfer any National Guard AH-64 Apache helicopters to active duty.  Furthermore, the resolution calls on Congress to take all necessary action to prohibit any force structure changes, to prohibit any transfer of AH-64 Apache helicopters from the National Guard, and maintain the Army National Guard at 350,200 Soldiers until the National Commission on the Future of the Army has reported its findings to Congress in February 2016.

“There are 24 AH-64 Apache helicopters authorized at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s 1-104th Attack Battalion, based in Cambria County,” said Sen. Vulakovich.  “Transferring the Apache helicopters would result in the loss of 350 part-time personnel and approximately $45 million to the Pennsylvania economy.”

HB 175 and both resolutions now go before the full Senate for consideration.

 

Contact:  Nate Silcox (717) 787-6538

More information about state issues is available at Senator Vulakovich’s website, www.senatorvulakovich.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SenatorRandyVulakovich.