Tester’s Comprehensive Bill to Permanently Expand Pandemic Support to Homeless Veterans Gains Momentum

Chairman awarded the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans 2021 Policy Award for his tireless efforts to tackle veterans homelessness

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing today to solicit feedback from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials and stakeholders on 21 bills, including two bills championed by Chairman Jon Tester to tackle veterans homelessness and provide alternative treatments for seen and unseen wounds of war.

During the hearing, Tester highlighted his Building Solutions for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness Act—comprehensive legislation which would permanently expand pandemic-relief resources essential to providing critical care and support for unhoused veterans and their families through VA.

Speaking on the need to need to permanently increase maximum funding for Grant and Per Diem (GPD) recipients in order for them to provide vital services in the fight to effectively end veterans homelessness, Chairman Tester said: “After pandemic-related flexibilities cease, the current maximum GPD rate will drop from 300 percent to 115 percent…The bill that I have would permanently increase the maximum to 200 percent. Ms. Monet, what will be the impact on GPD recipients and the veterans that they serve when the emergency declaration is over if the maximum rate drops to 115 percent?”

“I think the impacts will be dire on veterans,” said Kathryn Monet, CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV). “One of the challenges that providers often have, is that the rate historically has not been enough to provide the level of services that they need so many of the grantees spend a good chunk of time privately finding other options to fill gaps. That’s time that could be spent actually caring for veterans.”

In their opening statement, NCHV named Tester the recipient of their 2021 Policy Award in recognition of his enduring and tireless efforts to tackle veterans homelessness across the nation.

Tester also emphasized his bipartisan VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act which would require VA to begin clinical trials to test the effects of medicinal cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Continuing his push to address veteran dental services and limited provider participation in the VA dental network in Montana, the Senator pressed VA’s Acting Assistant Under Secretary of Health for Community Care at the Veterans Health Administration to provide stronger oversight over community care networks.

The Senator’s opening statement as prepared for delivery can be found HERE.

Tester’s full Q&A is available HERE.