ADVISORY: Tester announces panelists for veterans field hearing

Senator’s April 21 hearing will focus on health care access for rural veterans

(MISSOULA, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today announced the names of the panelists who will testify at his veterans field hearing in Billings on Saturday, April 21.

Tester’s hearing will focus on improving health care access for Montana’s rural veterans and will feature two panel discussions.

The first panel will consist of VA officials and local care providers to speak to the current state of veterans’ health care. The second panel will consist of Montana veterans and their advocates who will speak to the health care needs of veterans.

The panelists will also discuss topics related to physician recruitment, telehealth services, mental health care, transportation, and issues affecting Native American veterans.

Panel I

  • Jim Ahrens (Cascade): Chairman, Veterans Rural Health Care Advisory Committee
  • Cheryl Heald (Helena): Regional Service Officer, Montana Veterans Affairs Division
  • Dr. Natasha Houston (Billings): Counselor, Billings Vet Center, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Dr. Mark Rumans (Billings): Physician in Chief, Billings Clinic, Project ARCH
  • Dr. Wiley Bland (Billings): Retired Physician, VA CBOC Billings

Panel II

  • Ed Croucher (Eureka): State Vice Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Casey Elder (Billings): Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran
  • Merv Gunderson (Belgrade): National Vice Commander, American Legion
  • Norman Paulson (Billings): Disabled American Veterans
  • Anthony Schoonover (Billings): Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, will begin his hearing at 10:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The hearing is free and open to the public. For more information, click HERE or visit