Mar 10 2004

Graham TRICARE Amendment Added to Senate Budget Resolution

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was pleased the Senate passed an amendment he offered expanding access to TRICARE, the military health care system, to members of the National Guard and Reserves. Graham viewed today’s vote on the amendment to the Senate budget resolution as the first obstacle to be cleared this year in his efforts to expand the benefit package for Guardsman and Reservists. The Graham amendment passed the Senate unanimously. “We’ve still got a ways to go before we push this important change into law, but now we’ve at least got a foot in the door,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The budget resolution was the first hurdle we had to cross. Now we can move on to stage two of pushing it through the authorization and appropriation process.” “The increased demands placed on the men and women who serve this country in a part-time capacity require a modernization of their benefits,” said Graham.  “Guardsmen and Reservists will soon make up 40 percent of our forces on the ground in Iraq and over the past decade have seen a dramatic increase in the time they spend on active duty.  We must be sure to take care of every person that puts their life on the line to fight for liberty and freedom throughout the world.”   “The National Guard and Reserves are increasingly being called upon to help protect our country and defend American interests,” said Graham.  “They are playing a vital role in Operation Iraqi Freedom and are an integral part of the war on terrorism.  We must take proactive steps to modernize benefits and improve recruitment and retention.  Failure to act will result in a bloodletting in the Guard and Reserves, as many will choose to quit when their terms expire.  This would have a devastating impact on the American military.” #####