Tester Doubles Down on Efforts to Bring More VA Resources to Rural Veterans

Senator Introduces Bill to Fill in the Gaps for Veteran Families

(U.S. Senate) – Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Jon Tester today introduced legislation to ensure that rural veterans and their families can better access VA health care, benefits, and other support services to help improve their quality of life.

Tester’s bill establishes a grant program that will test out new and innovative methods for connecting veterans and their families with VA services. For those services that the VA does not provide but veterans and their families might need – such as financial counseling, emergency financial assistance, child care services and employment assistance – these grants will work with veterans and their families to connect them with private organizations or other federal or state agencies that can assist them.

“In rural states like Montana veterans and their families need help accessing VA services,” said Tester. “This bill will help connect veterans and their families to VA benefits that they’ve earned. And when the VA doesn’t offer certain resources, there will be folks available to direct veterans to the right local organization or government office.”

“Easterseals applauds Senator Tester for his commitment to ensuring all veterans can access essential care and services available through their community and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Angela F. Williams, President and CEO of Easterseals, a national network of nonprofit organizations that serves veterans, individuals with disabilities, and others. “Easterseals strongly supports this legislation, which will examine how intensive community care coordination can increase access to services and improve veteran outcomes.”

In his ongoing efforts to improve access to health care in rural areas, Tester introduced the bipartisan Caring for Our Veterans Act to incentivize medical staff to work at rural, underserved and tribal VA facilities, and to deploy mobile teams to provide additional care in rural areas.

Last year, Tester introduced bipartisan legislation to help rural veterans get to and from their medical appointments more easily. His bill was included in legislation to reauthorize 20 veterans programs that was signed into law in October.

Tester has also introduced bipartisan legislation to incentivize medical students to conduct their residencies with the VA at tribal healthcare facilities in rural areas.