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Enzi’s mileage increase for veterans approved

First increase since 1977 from 11 to 28.5 cents per mile

January 31, 2008

Washington, D.C. – An increase from 11 cents to 28.5 cents per mile was approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who worked for seven years to get a much needed increase in the amount disabled veterans are reimbursed for traveling to VA hospitals to receive care.

“Veterans shouldn’t have to carpool and put off appointments because they can’t afford gas to get to a VA hospital. This approved increase will help rural veterans get a fair shake. We all know traveling in Wyoming means covering great distances and making those long treks can be even more difficult for disabled veterans. This increase is will reimburse some of the cost of traveling for our veterans have done so much for us,” said Enzi. “I thank Secretary Peake for acknowledging the unique challenges of rural veterans and for approving this increase.”

Enzi worked with veterans groups in Wyoming to get the increase approved and also introduced legislation. Enzi’s language, originally introduced in 2001 and included in a bill in the 109th Congress sponsored by Senator Conrad Burns, R-Mont., S. 996, would increase the travel reimbursement rate for disabled veterans. The language increasing the reimbursement rate from 11 cents per mile to 28.5 was approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and funded up to $125 million through the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act. In order to make the increase a reality, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs James Peake must officially announce an increase. Enzi, along with rural senators, sent a letter to Secretary Peake asking him to do what is right for our nation’s disabled veterans and announce the increase. Secretary Peake announced the increase in a letter to Enzi today.

Wyoming has two VA hospitals, located in Sheridan and Cheyenne.  Veterans must travel to one of these facilities to be treated for health conditions and still be covered by a health care plan that the government provides for them.

A copy of Secretary Peak’s response to Enzi is below and attached.

January 31, 2008

The Honorable Michael B. Enzi                                          
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Enzi,

This is in reply to the letter from you and fellow Senators regarding a possible increase in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Beneficiary Travel Program mileage reimbursement rate.

As you wrote in your letter and as I previously testified during my confirmation hearing, the 11 cents a mile rate is an inadequate reimbursement for travel. Therefore, effective February 1, 2008, VA is raising its mileage reimbursement rate to 28.5 cents a mile. This much needed increase will assist in defraying the costs incurred by veterans who travel significant distances for VA care.

A similar letter has been sent out to the cosigners of your letter. I thank you and your colleagues for your leadership and attention to this issue and look forward to working with you this next year on behalf of our Nation’s veterans

Sincerely yours,
James B. Peake, M.D.