Tester Pushes VA to Establish Vet Center in Hamilton

Senator Meets with Top Vet Center Official About Mental Health Services in Ravalli County

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – Ranking Member Jon Tester is pushing the VA to expand mental health care and counseling services to veterans in Ravalli County.

During a meeting with Michael Fisher, VA Chief Readjustment Counseling Officer, Tester asked Fisher to establish a Vet Center in Hamilton.

Vet Centers provide services to veterans in a confidential setting outside VA Health Care facilities. Services include mental health screenings, military sexual trauma counseling, suicide prevention, drug and alcohol assistance, family counseling, employment assessments and referrals, explanation of VA benefits, and other services to help veterans transition to civilian life.

“I am concerned that veterans living in rural areas, like those in the Hamilton area, are unable to access Vet Center counseling services,” wrote Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “After our recent meeting, I was particularly pleased that you are committed to expanding these services to additional veterans in Montana by considering the establishment of a permanent Vet Center in Hamilton.”

Tester has been a leading advocate in Congress for expanding veterans’ access to Vet Centers. He has helped establish Centers in Kalispell, and Great Falls. And the Helena Vet Center opened its doors earlier this year after Tester demanded the VA expand to Lewis and Clark County.

Tester introduced bipartisan legislation to expand a successful pilot program that reimburses veterans who travel to Vet Centers for care and has fought to maintain funding for the Kalispell offshoot of this pilot program.

Tester’s letter is available online HERE.