Tester Announces Applications Now Open for Vet Center Scholarship Program
Tester secured new VA scholarship program as part of his landmark Hannon Act to assist aspiring mental health professionals and build VA’s mental health workforce
Following efforts from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is now accepting applications for the Vet Center Scholarship Program to provide educational assistance funding to individuals pursuing graduate degrees in psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, or mental health counseling who will then work at Vet Centers. Tester successfully secured the scholarship program as part of his landmark Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (Hannon Act).
“In rural states like Montana, Vet Centers play a critical role in delivering quality mental health services and support to veterans, servicemembers, and their families,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m proud to have worked to establish this scholarship program that’ll help Vet Centers hire qualified talent in Montana and rural communities across the country. This is a critical step in connecting more folks with the care they need and earned, and I encourage all aspiring mental health professionals to apply as soon as possible.”
VA is accepting applications on a rolling basis, and expects to start awarding scholarships by the end of April 2023, providing funding to cover up to two years of graduate studies for individuals pursuing these degrees. Funding will cover tuition, fees, and books, as well as a monthly stipend paid directly to the student. Upon completion of their degrees, these mental health professionals will then serve full-time for a period of six years at one of VA’s 300 Vet Centers across the country, specifically in underserved areas and states with a per-capita veteran population of more than five percent. Montana is home to the second highest per-capita rate of veterans in the country and is home to five Vet Centers with locations in Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, Missoula, and Helena.
Named for a Montana veteran who lost his life to suicide, Tester championed the Hannon Act in his capacity as the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to bolster VA’s mental health workforce and increase rural veterans’ access to care through alternative and local treatment options. As part of the law, Tester secured a provision creating this scholarship program for mental health professionals who commit to work at Vet Centers after graduation. Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide-range of social and psychological services, including professional counseling to eligible veterans, servicemembers, National Guard and Reserve components and their families.