June 23, 2023

Van Hollen, Cardin Announce $3 Million in Federal Funding for New NSA Bethesda Fire Station in Key Committee Legislation

Senators have long pushed for updates to the fire station, which serves Walter Reed and the surrounding community

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen,a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Ben Cardin(bothD-Md.) announcedthe inclusion of$3,000,000 indirectfederal fundingthat they requestedwithin the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee fiscal year 2024 funding bill for the planning and design of a new fire station atNaval Support Activity Bethesda (NSA Bethesda). The current fire stationat NSA Bethesda– the naval installation home to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center – is inseveredisrepair and has been plagued by mold, leaks, structural problems, and other serious issues.The fire stationis also too smalland unable to accommodate basic needs such as a ladder truck.The new fire station willmeetthe needs ofthe firefighters who work there as well asthebase and the surrounding communitythat they serve.

“I’ve seen firsthand how outdated and dangerous the conditionsat the NSA Bethesda fire station are – putting both the lives of our firefighters and the lives of those they protect in harm’s way.That’s why we’vepushed for years to get the Navy to upgrade this station so our firefighters can do their jobs without fear for their own safety. We fought for thisfederal fundingto get this project off the ground –and we won’t stop working to secure it and ensure our firefighters havethe tools they need to serve out their mission,”said Senator Van Hollen.

“We have fought for funding that will keep Maryland’s military installations – and the people who make them among the best in the country – safe and equipped with the tools to do their job protecting America’s national security,” said Senator Cardin. “We are constantly working to ensure our troops and our veterans have the support they deserve whether they are deployed overseas or here at home. From firefighters at NSA Bethesda to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and so much more, Team Maryland will always prioritize these brave men and women.”

The inclusion of this direct investment for a new NSA Bethesda fire station within funding legislation for the upcoming fiscal year is the latest result of Senators Van Hollenand Cardin’s pushto renovate the fire station.Senator Van Hollen visitedthe fire station last fallwith local and national union leaders of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and National Capital Professional Firefightersand announced that following repeated calls for the Navy to address this issue they had released a plan to do so. This announcementfollowedaJuly 2022letter sent by the Senators pressing Navy leadership for an updateon their progress.

This subcommittee legislation, released as part of the annual Congressional Appropriations processand approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, will proceed to consideration before the full Senate.Funding is not finalized until the Appropriations bills are passed by the Senate, reconciled with the House of Representatives, and signed by the President.

Additional priorities secured bythe Senators in the FY24 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding billinclude:

  • Funding for critical military construction projects across Maryland, including:
    • $100 million for the cybersecurity operations facility at Fort Meade
    • $141.7 million for aircraft development and maintenance facilities at Naval Air Station Patuxent River
    • $101.8 million for construction at the Bethesda Naval Hospital
    • $480 million for construction at Fort Meade
    • $38.3 million for a hydrant fueling system at Joint Base Andrews
  • $3.1 billion for Veterans homelessness programs, which is $418 million more than fiscal year 2023. This funding includes:
    • $774.7 million for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program
    • $620 million for case management and supportive services as administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs under the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program
    • $109.7 million for the Veterans Justice Outreach Program and Legal Services for Veterans grants
  • $984 million for medical and prosthetics research, which is $68 million more than fiscal year 2023.
  • $1.2 billion to support the VA in expanding care to all women veterans.
  • $15 million for the VA Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence, which advocates for Veterans who have concerns about potential adverse health outcomes related to airborne hazard exposures. This is equal to the fiscal year 2023 enacted level.
  • $164 million for grants for construction of state extended care facilities, which supports the construction of state-run assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, such as the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and the planned second Veterans home in Sykesville.
  • $1.9 billion for military family housing construction, operations, and maintenance.
  • $300.3 million for child development centers, $7 million more than the 2023 enacted level.
  • Report language on military personnel exposure to harmful “forever chemicals” – language requires the U.S. Department of Defense to consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and report to Congress on the Department’s ability to locate PFAS exposure; determine the extent of exposure among service members; conduct ongoing surveillance of health conditions among personnel potentially exposed; continue epidemiological research on PFAS exposure; and enhance the department’s ability to support those exposed.