Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced passage of bills aimed at honoring and supporting this nation’s veterans through improvements in health care, mental health care and earned benefit programs.
He said, “Our nation’s veterans are heroes. When they return to civilian life they deserve the support of our communities and the nation they selflessly served. From assistance with health care to ensuring the promise of their earned benefits, we are proud to deliver this comprehensive set of bills that honor and respect their sacrifices.”
The following bills were passed:
•S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019: Develops a grant program that will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide grant funds to nonprofit organizations for suicide prevention and telehealth services, makes suicide prevention coordinators available at every VA medical Center, provides scholarships to students who work as VA counselors, and increases the use of animal, sports and other alternative therapies.
•H.R. 7105, the DELIVER Act: Provides flexibility in caring for homeless veterans during a public health emergency, allows expansion of the HUD-VASH, Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Programs, and Transition Assistance Program to provide job training and assistance with food, clothing and transportation to appointments.
•H.R. 8247, the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act of 2020: Expands access and eligibility for veterans to receive emergency mental health care regardless of cost, creates an education program for family members of veterans with mental health disorders, analyzes gaps in providing care to women veterans, and directs outreach to any veteran who has not been in contact with the VA in two or more years.
•H.R. 3798, Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act: Provides veterans with the same contraception coverage without co-pays provided to Americans under the Affordable Care Act.
•H.R. 6092, Veteran's Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act: Establishes a national clinical pathway for the treatment of prostate cancer from early detection to late-stage care.
•H.R. 4908, Native American PACT Act, as amended: In order to uphold trust and treaty obligations, this bill brings the Department of Veterans Affairs in line with other federal health systems and prohibits VA from collecting copayments from American Indian or Alaska Native veterans for hospital care or medical services.
•H.R. 3010, Honoring All Veterans Act: Amends the VA mission statement to be more inclusive of women and LGBTQ veterans, and establishes the VA motto as follows: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
Higgins, a staunch supporter of Western New York veterans, cosponsored and passed The Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act (H.R. 886) last month. The bipartisan bill provides support for and assistance to those brave Americans who have dutifully served in the armed forces by providing grants and technical assistance for state, local and tribal governments to develop and maintain veteran treatment courts.