U.S. House of Representatives



House Approves Veterans’ Legislation


Washington, D.C. — This week, the House of Representatives passed three veterans’ health care bills that would increase and expand education reimbursements for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care professionals, improve VA chiropractic care, and create a pilot program to assess the use of training therapy dogs to assist veterans with post-traumatic stress.


The House also approved a resolution to honor the Sons and Daughters in Touch, a national organization of 3,000 members whose fathers were killed or are missing as a result of their military service in the Vietnam War. 


“It is appropriate that the House approved these bills to support veterans as our nation prepares to celebrate Memorial Day,” said House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Steve Buyer.  “These bills have my full support and I am hopeful that the House and Senate will be able to complete negotiations soon on a comprehensive veterans’ benefit package as well.”


H.R. 3885, the Veterans’ Dog Training Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Health Ranking Member Henry Brown (R-SC), to establish a five-year pilot program in which veterans suffering post-deployment mental health disorders will train therapy dogs for other disabled veterans. The program will hopefully duplicate earlier successes demonstrating that the training of therapy dogs has therapeutic effect on symptoms related to post traumatic stress disorder.  H.R. 3885 passed by a vote of 403-4.


“As our veterans continue to return from combat with post traumatic stress, we must continually seek new and innovative ways to provide them effective treatments,” Brown said.  “The pilot program created in this bill is modeled after two successful programs at the VA medical center in Palo Alto, California and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  Veterans who participated in this program have seen improvements in sleep patterns, social interaction, mood, patience, and sense of purpose. Some veterans have reported that working with the dogs calms their anxiety to such an extent that they are able to reduce their medications.  I am deeply pleased that the House has agreed to expand these programs.”


H.R. 1017 would require VA to increase access to chiropractic care.  It would require VA to make chiropractic care available at 75 VA medical centers by the end of 2011, and at all VA facilities by the end of 2013.  H.R. 1017 passed by a vote of 365-6.


“The physical rigors associated with military activities lead a large prevalence of back, neck, and joint injuries among our veterans,” Buyer said. “Clearly there is a need to expand access to chiropractic care at VA medical facilities. I thank my good friend and colleague from Kansas, Jerry Moran, for his strong advocacy in this regard.  It was legislation that he introduced in the 108th Congress that initially provided VA with the authority to hire and employ chiropractors.” 


H.R. 5145 would expand VA authority to provide continuing professional education for VA health care providers.  The bill also increases the annual reimbursement for continuing education from $1,000 to $1,600.  H.R. 5145 passed by a vote of 413-2.


“To maintain its status as a world-class health care provider, VA must always strive to improve its medical services,” concluded Buyer. “This means VA health professionals must be able to stay abreast of the latest advancements in medical science. This bill will go far to assist them in their efforts by providing support for education opportunities.”


H. Con. Res. 278 would resolve that it is the sense of Congress that a grateful nation supports and salutes Sons and Daughters in Touch on its 20th Anniversary being celebrated at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  H.Con. Res. 278 passed by a vote of 371-0.


“As we commemorate Memorial Day next week and Father’s Day in the coming month, it is fitting that we remember the contributions and the legacy of those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation,” Buyer said. “In honoring Sons and Daughters in Touch, we honor the men and women who served during that conflict and remember their sacrifice on behalf of our nation.”  


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