Durbin Charis Hearing on Defense Department's Health Programs

Durbin honors victims of Fort Hood shooting, including Illinois native Sgt. Tim Owens

Washington, D.C. – Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired a hearing of the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense today on the Department of Defense’s health programs. Following last week’s shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, and President Obama’s visit to the base today, the hearing focused heavily on the Department’s funding for mental health programs and medical research to aid psychological health and rehabilitation. During the hearing, Durbin questioned Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho, Surgeon General of the Army, on the status of mental health care in the armed forces, and what more could be done.

“Today’s hearing comes at a time when the well-being of our servicemembers is on every American’s mind.  One of the responses to the tragic shooting at Fort Hood on April 2nd has been to ask questions about what more we can do to support our troops as they deal with stressors from long overseas deployments, personal relationships, financial stress and more,” Durbin said.

Video of Durbin’s full statement and questions is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s full statement and questions is available here.

The military health system provides medical care on the battlefield as well as to service members, their families and military retirees at home.  It is one of the largest healthcare systems in the world, caring for 9.6 million beneficiaries with 56 hospitals, hundreds of clinics, and 160,000 employees.  Like in the civilian sector, military health care costs have increased faster than inflation. Military health costs have more than doubled in the past decade, increasing from $19 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $51 billion in fiscal year 2013. The category now accounts for almost ten percent of the Department’s budget.