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
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.
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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