05/23/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/23/2019 12:37
(U.S. Senate) - The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee yesterday debated six bipartisan bills authored by U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the Committee's Ranking Member. Among the bills were legislation aimed at improving mental health care and preventing veteran suicide, boosting health care resources for women veterans, and ensuring Guard and Reservists can access mental health care.
During the hearing, Tester highlighted the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, bipartisan and comprehensive legislation that would improve VA mental health care by expanding access to care for veterans including telehealth and alternative therapies, and increase oversight over VA's mental health programs.
'One of my main focuses this Congress is on mental health and suicide prevention,' said Tester at the hearing yesterday. 'I've worked closely across the aisle with Senator Moran of Kansas on expanding access to mental health care for our veterans and increasing oversight over VA's mental health programs-and the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act does just that. It also helps ease the transition for recently separated veterans, improves and expands VA's mental health infrastructure and increases community engagement.'
Women are the fastest growing group of veterans, but many VA facilities lack the ability to provide equitable care or services to women veterans. Tester yesterday also highlighted the Deborah Sampson Act which would help ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment, and go without essential health care.
'The Deborah Sampson Act would eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face, and would expand services for women veterans most in need, such as those experiencing homelessness,' said Tester.
The Deborah Sampson Act is endorsed by veterans across the country, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
The Committee also considered the following Tester bills:
Tester's opening statement as prepared for delivery is available to read HERE.