Elizabeth M. Cochran
ROA attended a press conference April 21st held in the U.S. Capitol by House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) Chairman Bob Filner (D, Calif.) about the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act or S.1963.
This landmark piece of legislation addresses many problems veterans face today and it is more inclusive of the diverse groups among veterans.
Caregivers are provided education, counseling, mental health services, respite care, and health care through CHAMPVA.
The approximately 1.8 million women veterans will receive enhanced health service including better sexual assault treatment and care for new born babies.
Mental and medical services will be expanded for veterans as well as transportation for rural veterans.
Vietnam veterans exposed to herbicides and Gulf War era veterans with insufficient medical evidence to establish service connection can receive hospital care.
Pilot programs and studies will address barriers to women seeking health care, reintegration and readjustment, veteran suicides, and dental services.
Also the act prohibits copayments for veterans that are designated catastrophically disabled.
There are several more provisions which can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov by searching S.1963.
The bill was originally passed by the Senate November 7, 2009. The House amended the bill and it passed by 419-0 April 21st.
Accompanying the Chairman at the press conference were HVAC Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D, S.D.), HVAC Subcommittee on Health Chairman Michael Michaud (D, M.E.), and Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D, Md.), Deborah Halvorson (D, Ill.), Tom Perriello (D, Va.), and Harry Teague (D, N.M.). In addition Army veteran Ted Wade and his wife and caregiver Sarah Wade spoke about the dilemmas they have and will continue to face, but will receive tremendous support through this bill.
The act was unanimously passed by the Senate April 22nd and has been sent to the President to be signed into law. New benefits could go into effect 270 days from date of enactment.