Our freedom comes at a great price, and we owe our gratitude to the people who defend it every day. Happy Veterans Day to all of Eastern Washington’s amazing veterans who have served and sacrificed for us and our freedoms.
The way we show that gratitude to those who have served is to make sure they get the care they need when the time comes. In honor of Veterans Day, this week the House passed a number of bills to help make that a reality.
One of those bills is the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2017. From Curlew to Pomeroy, many in Eastern Washington live far from their nearest VA medical facility. This legislation would authorize VA health care professionals to practice telemedicine at any location, regardless of where the patient is. This is one way we can make the lives of our veterans easier, so they no longer have to travel for hours to the VA for a checkup or consultation.
The House also passed the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act, which provides mental health services to veterans who may not otherwise be eligible because they were discharged from the military under conditions other than “honorable.” The Veterans Crisis Line Study Act of 2017, also passed by the House this week, would direct the Secretary of the VA to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) in preventing veteran suicide. The VCL is a critical resource for our veterans, and we need to ensure that they are receiving the help they need from the crisis line.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak with VA Secretary David Shulkin. One of the topics we discussed was when ID cards would be available to veterans. A law passed in 2015 required the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide veterans with ID cards, but as of April, the law had still not yet been implemented. I voiced my concerns and the Secretary then directed the VA to immediately implement this law. I’m happy to report that these ID cards will be available at no charge to those who want them later this month.
I’m also happy to announce that next week, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) will be with me in Spokane to meet with veterans and healthcare leaders so we can continue to make improvements for our veterans. Stay tuned for more information on the Chairman’s visit!
Our veterans have earned the best care imaginable, and it’s our job to make sure they get it. If you ever need help working with a federal agency, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, please don’t hesitate to contact my office. We are here to help you. And follow along on Facebook and Twitter for more updates about my work for veterans and everyone in Eastern Washington.
Happy Veterans Day and God Bless!