Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Udall Joins Senate in Passing Defense Legislation that Includes Provisions he Authored

Bill Includes Udall-Authored TRICARE Health Insurance Extension, Expansion of Fort Carson’s Mobile Behavioral Health Teams, Initiatives to Enhance Cyber Security

Today, Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined his colleagues in passing the National Defense Authorization Act. The annual bill funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and military construction projects in Colorado and other states, provides for critical national security initiatives, and includes several provisions Udall authored to strengthen benefits and health care for service members and their families, and to protect the nation against cyber attacks. The bill is now headed to the House for final approval so it can be sent to the President.

“It was critical to get this bill passed, and I’m glad that after months of debate, we were finally able to come to an agreement,” Udall said. “The bill will enhance our military’s readiness, improve our service members’ training, and upgrade equipment and resources to succeed in combat.”

Provisions Udall authored to help troops and their families and to strengthen cyber security were included in the bill. They are:

Expansion of TRICARE insurance for military families

· Enables active-duty service members and retirees to keep their adult children on their TRICARE health insurance policies through age 26, just as civilian families may as a result of health insurance reform.

Improving Behavioral Health Support Services

· Urges the Army to expand the use of Fort Carson’s successful Mobile Behavioral Health Teams to other installations. The teams embed credentialed behavioral health providers in a single battalion within a brigade combat team – both during deployment and in garrison – to help identify and treat behavioral health problems.

Strengthening Cyber Security

· Two Udall-authored initiatives related to cyber security were included, one requiring the Department of Defense to report on its plans for engaging with rivals or enemies in cyberspace, and another requiring a report on the department’s progress in defending its own computer networks.

“I’m thankful we were able to include these critical provisions. Our service members and their families sacrifice more than many of us can imagine. We need to do all we can to help military families make ends meet and to ensure our troops can get the care they need for all of their injuries – physical and psychological,” Udall continued. “We also have an urgent need to strengthen our cyber defenses. The provisions I authored will help assess our defenses and ensure the Pentagon has the resources it needs to protect our nation from a crippling cyber attack.”