Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune today announced passage of the conference report for the Fiscal Year 2006 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.

"I was proud to support this important funding package because of the many direct benefits it will provide to South Dakota—to our veterans, our active military and many hard-working men and women throughout the state.

"Included in this funding are considerable investments in Ellsworth—investments that are sure to go a long way in securing one of South Dakota's most important and prized facilities," Thune said. "By investing in Ellsworth today and anchoring it with state-of-the-art technology and services that benefit the entire nation, we are taking critical steps in ensuring a secure, strong and lasting future for Ellsworth.

"In addition, this bill provides record health care and benefit funding for South Dakota veterans—men and women who have made great sacrifices to secure our freedoms and deserve only the best in benefits and care in return."

Highlights in the conference report for the Fiscal Year 2006 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that will have an impact in South Dakota:

Military Construction
  • $8.4 million for construction of the Maintenance Group Headquarters Facility at Ellsworth Air Force Base. This new facility will aid the mechanics and technicians that maintain the B-1B Lancer by providing a state of the art facility with maintenance training and maintenance simulators.

  • $14.383 million to replace 60 family housing units at Ellsworth to ensure that base housing will be of the highest quality. Upon completion, the entire inventory will be less than 20 years old.

  • $5.5 million for Security Forces and communications upgrades at Joe Foss Air National Guard base in Sioux Falls. The base requires an adequately sized and properly configured facility to accommodate security force functions to include command, administration, pass and ID, law enforcement, arms vault with cleaning and maintenance area, classroom, training and counseling, mobility storage, mobility pallet build-up area, and locker rooms. Joe Foss Field is home to 18 F-16's.

Department of Veterans Affairs

  • $70.2 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (the highest amount of funding in the history of the VA), with $22.5 billion designated for veterans' medical services. The bill provides $2.2 billion for mental health services. The bill also directs the VA and Defense Departments to jointly study the onset and nature of post-traumatic stress disorder, and provides $412 million for medical and prosthetic research.