Merkley Fighting to Improve Veterans Health Care

Merkley Fighting to Improve Veterans Health Care

Bills Increase Benefits for Veterans Suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury and their Families

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley co-sponsored four pieces of legislation today to improve health care for our veterans. 

“We have a bedrock commitment to our men and women in uniform to provide them with the resources they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they return home,” Merkley said.  “These bills expand and improve health care for rural veterans, female veterans, and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.  They also provide support to family members charged with the difficult task of providing care to injured loved ones.”

Senator Merkley is co-sponsoring the following pieces of legislation:

Honor Act of 2009

  • Authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide scholarships for graduate or post-graduate degree studies in behavioral science to veterans with previous experience in mental health field
  • Authorizes VA survivor benefits to family members if a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) commits suicide within two years of military separation or retirement

Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009

  • Oregon has over 352,000 veterans throughout the state
  • Provides travel reimbursement for rural veterans, and establishes centers of excellence for rural health research, education and clinical activities
  • Authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a $50,000 grant program to provide transportation options to veterans in rural areas
  • Provides peer outreach services including readjustment counseling and mental health services and improvement of care of American Indian Veterans

Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009

  • Directs the VA to report on barriers preventing female veterans from getting the health care they need
  • Provides for independent pilot study on health consequences for women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Furnishes care for up to seven days after the birth of the child for female veterans receiving VA maternity care

Family Caregiver Program Act of 2009

  • Waives charges for care provided by VA in emergency cases to attendants accompanying veterans severely injured while on active duty
  • Provides family members with caregiver instruction, training and certification
  • Provides for direct technical support to routine, emergency, and specialized care giving

“When it comes to the serious physical and emotional tolls that PTSD and traumatic brain injury take on our veterans, there is much we have yet to understand.  The Honor Act improves treatment for veterans, but it also provides educational opportunities for veterans to become experts in the mental health field.  We need more health care providers with first-hand knowledge of what veterans have gone through so they can better help those who need it most,” Merkley said.