Tester Sends 7th Bill to Trump for Signature
Senator’s Bipartisan Bill Will Prevent Crucial Veterans Benefits from Expiring
(U.S. Senate) - On the heels of being named one of the most effective lawmakers in the U.S. Senate, Jon Tester is sending another bipartisan bill to President Trump's desk on behalf of Montana's veterans.
Trump is expected to sign the VA Expiring Authorities Act into law. Tester's bill funds and prevents a wide range of critical veterans benefits from expiring. It also includes Tester's legislation to ensure rural veterans who use transportation assistance to travel to and from medical appointments will be able to utilize those services through 2019. The bill will also continue a successful pilot program that reimburses veterans who travel to the Kalispell Vet Center for mental health care.
"These initiatives have been a life saver for so many Montana veterans and we can't let them fall to the wayside," said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "When it comes to basic needs like health care, housing, and child care we must deliver for those who served our nation. This bill delivers on the promises we made to our veterans and their families."
The bill also funds the Caregiver Support Program, which provides assistance to those that give up their own lives to care for veterans, and Tester's legislation to extend the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, which provides critical housing, counseling and career training to homeless or at-risk veterans. Additionally, the bill advances a provision included in Tester's Deborah Sampson Act that provides more opportunities for women veterans to seek readjustment counseling.
"I would just like to take this opportunity to express my support for continuing Beneficiary Travel to Vet Centers for eligible veterans who live in highly rural counties," said Dr. Jeffrey Heider, Director of the Kalispell Vet Center. "During the 3 years the pilot study has been conducted, several dozen veterans with readjustment issues related to combat experiences or military sexual trauma have been able to afford to make the trip for regular counseling sessions at our facility. If these Veterans had needed to travel between 65 and 100 miles one-way without travel pay, this could have been an obstacle to receiving care at all, or interfered with the ability to consistently make appointments, impeding progress in treatment. This program has definitely helped increase access to care for isolated veterans with readjustment issues."
"The programs extended by this bill are vital in the fight to end homelessness among veterans and they have prevented tens of thousands of veterans and their families from ever becoming homeless," said Kathryn Monet, CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), including seven organizations in Montana. "NCHV applauds Congress for their continued bipartisan commitment to ensuring veterans can continue to access the housing assistance and services they need to obtain and remain in permanent housing."
The VA Expiring Authorities Act recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives. You can read more about Tester's six other bills that have been signed into law this Congress HERE.