Tester Talks Legislative Priorities with Veterans Service Organizations at Final Hearing
VSOs throw support behind Chairman Tester’s legislative efforts to bolster VA infrastructure and increase research into medicinal cannabis
At the last of three joint Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing with the nation’s leading Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) yesterday, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester questioned leaders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) on his legislative efforts to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) infrastructure and increase research for medicinal cannabis to provide better care for veterans.
“To improve infrastructure for veterans, we need to fix several areas including infrastructure staffing levels, cutting VA red tape, more oversight and stable funding,” said Chairman Tester. “…Can you tell me how you think the BUILD for Veterans Act would push the VA to increase their capacity and actually deliver more projects for the VA each year?”
“Yes sir,” replied VFW Commander Timothy Borland. “..The better we make the VA facilities for our veterans, the more we’ll get nurses and doctors to step up and possibly work for the VA.”
Tester went on to highlight his bipartisan VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2023 which would require VA to conduct research to better understand the efficacy of medical cannabis in treating veterans experiencing chronic pain and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“Effective treatment options must be based on comprehensive research science, and VA research should empower veterans to make informed decisions about their health…[do you] feel VA has been proactive in conducting research on veterans’ cannabis use?”
The VFW signaled its full support for the bill, acknowledging medicinal cannabis as being an effective solution for some military personnel treating their wounds of war and underscoring the need for VA to conduct more research on the topic.
Tester also announced the imminent introduction of the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act—bipartisan legislation to hold unaccredited entities targeting Montana veterans and survivors accountable for predatory practices.
During the second panel, the Committee also heard legislative presentations from the Jewish War Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Military Officers Association of America, the American Veterans (AMVETS), Gold Star Wives, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Blinded Veterans Association, National Association of County Veterans Service Officers.