Testers leadership producing results for Montana veterans
Committee approves Senator’s bills to expand access to care, help rural veterans
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester’s leadership for Montana’s veterans continues to pay off.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today approved three Tester bills to expand veterans’ access to care and improve their mental health care. Tester, a senior member of the committee, said Montana’s veterans and their families made tremendous sacrifices and earned high-quality health care.
“As Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, it’s my job to make sure veterans and their families get the care and benefits they earned – no matter where they live,” Tester said. “These measures will raise veterans’ standard of care, bring more health professionals to Montana and make sure more rural veterans can access the care they need.”
Tester’s groundbreaking Rural Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act was among the bills passed by the committee. The measure, which is based on feedback Tester received at a subcommittee hearing in May, includes provisions to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ mental health and telemedicine initiatives.
Tester’s bill will encourage the VA to recruit more Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors and Marriage Therapists to help veterans and their families, identify issues hindering the expansion of telemedicine as a treatment tool and require the VA to determine the feasibility of providing mental health services to veterans’ immediate family members.
The committee also passed Tester bills that will make sure more veterans get timely access to vaccines and authorize the VA to carry out a pilot program to speed up the processing of compensation claims for veterans’ families.
In addition to serving on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester heads the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce. He used his first hearing in May to hold federal agencies more accountable for providing better health care – particularly to veterans and Native Americans – in rural parts of the country.
Tester recently supported legislation to force the Defense Department and the VA to establish a system that shares military medical records and reduces the veterans disability claims backlog.
Tester’s bills were passed by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and will next be considered by the full Senate.