Chairman Tester, VA Secretary McDonough Host Listening Session with Veterans at Montana State University in Bozeman
Day two of Secretary’s Montana visit included stops at Yellowstone National Cemetery, Bozeman VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic, and Montana State University Vet Center
U.S. Senator Jon Tester and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough continued their Montana tour today with a listening session at Montana State University to hear directly from veterans, stakeholders and community leaders in Bozeman.
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, officials, 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 Bozeman and across the state,” said Chairman Tester. “This is especially important for veterans in rural areas, who got to meet with the Secretary firsthand to discuss their experiences with accessing care at the VA. I look forward to working with the Secretary to find solutions that will address their unique challenges and provide high-quality care worthy of all veterans’ service.”
The roundtable covered a variety of issues including delivering COVID-19 relief, supporting women 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. They also toured the university’s Veteran Center, which provides critical services to support student veterans.
Before the listening session, the Senator and VA Secretary visited the Yellowstone National Cemetery in Laurel to tour the grounds and meet with staff. In 2007, Tester began working with the VA and local veterans’ groups to designate Yellowstone as a national cemetery.
McDonough also joined Tester in touring Bozeman’s VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic to meet with staff and tour the facility. Thanks to efforts by the Senator, a new 12,000 square foot clinic is set to open summer 2021 offering significantly more space for Primary Care, Behavioral Health, Laboratory, and Telehealth services to better serve Montana veterans. The Senator also successfully led a bipartisan effort in 2019 to rename the facility in honor of fallen Montana hero and Medal of Honor recipient, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins.
The Senator and Secretary will continue their tour this week, where they will host additional listening sessions and events with veterans in Butte and Helena.
Chairman Tester has been fighting to ensure Montana’s veterans and their families, especially those in rural areas, are supported during the ongoing pandemic. He worked tirelessly to ensure the most recent COVID relief bill delivered targeted resources to vaccinate, support, and protect veterans in Montana and across the country.