Chairman Tester, VA Secretary McDonough Host Listening Session with Veterans at Montana State University in Billings

Day one of Secretary’s Montana visit focuses on COVID relief, rural and women veterans, and mental health care

U.S. Senator Jon Tester and Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough kicked off their Montana tour today with a listening session at Montana State University to hear directly from veterans, stakeholders and community leaders in Billings.

In his capacity as the new Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester brought McDonough to the Treasure State to meet firsthand with veterans, VA employees, Veterans Service Organizations, local health care providers, community leaders, and members of the media on his first official trip as Cabinet Secretary.

“It’s an honor to host Secretary McDonough on his first trip to Montana to hear directly from veterans and advocates on how we can improve VA services in Billings and rural areas across the state,” said Chairman Tester. “Montana veterans swore an oath to protect our country, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they receive the benefits and care they earned in return for their service. Today’s discussion helped us hone in on needed investments for our veterans and their families, and I look forward to working with the Secretary to put them into action.”

The roundtable covered a variety of issues including delivering COVID-19 relief, supporting women veterans, better serving Native veterans, and improving mental health care. Tester and McDonough also heard from veterans on the critical need to expand health care options for those residing in rural areas-especially during the ongoing pandemic.

Before the listening session, the Senator and VA Secretary toured the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow and Benjamin Charles Steele VA Clinics in Billings to meet with facility leadership and staff. Following sustained efforts from Tester and his staff to improve delivery of care and efficiency, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Clinic leaders announced critical WiFi upgrades at the facility set to be completed later this month.

The Senator and Secretary will continue their tour this week, where they will host additional listening sessions and events with veterans in Bozeman, Butte, and Helena.

Chairman Tester has been fighting to ensure Montana’s veterans and their families have the resources they need during the ongoing pandemic-especially those in rural areas. He worked tirelessly to ensure the most recent COVID relief bill delivered targeted relief to vaccinate, support, and protect veterans in Montana and across the country.