Congress Votes to Expand Veterans’ Healthcare Coverage and Benefits

WASHINGTON, DC -- In advance of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), released the following statement honoring our nation’s veterans:
“Every Memorial Day, Americans come together to honor and remember those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our country. This year, which marks the fifth Memorial Day we have celebrated since the beginning of the Iraq War, we must also renew our promise to care for both the troops currently serving abroad and our veterans here at home.

“I was proud to stand up in the House of Representatives earlier this week, as we honored America’s veterans by passing legislation that seeks to expand healthcare coverage and benefits for our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The appalling conditions faced by our wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the lengthy backlogs, processing times and bureaucratic red tape are unacceptable, and this Memorial Day should mark a vigorous new effort to provide our military heroes with the care and support they have earned.”

On Wednesday, May 23, 2007, the House of Representatives passed, and Rep. Markey voted for, the following measures:

• Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)/Rural Veterans Outreach (H.R. 2199): Traumatic Brain Injury has become the signature injury of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the increased use of improvised explosive devices in the battlefield. H.R. 2199 increases TBI screening of soldiers leaving combat and expands research to treat TBI. The bill also provides the VA with additional resources for improving how rural communities deliver mental health services and benefits outreach.

• Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act (H.R. 612): Expands the amount of time for veterans to apply for receive mental health and other healthcare services from the VA up to five years after being discharged.

• Veterans Outreach Improvement Act (H.R. 67): Directs the VA to improve coordination with state and local governments to expand outreach for veterans and their families to notify them of benefit eligibility.

• Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act (H.R. 2239): Extends the eligibility for veterans seeking rehabilitation services from the VA.

• Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act (H.R. 1470): Requires that chiropractic treatment and services be made available to veterans at all VA medical centers.

“I am proud to support critically important legislation passed on the House Floor to improve the services for our veterans. Providing our military heroes with the care and support they deserve is a top priority, and as Memorial Day approaches, Congress has taken a significant step to make urgently needed upgrades,” stated Rep. Markey.

May 25, 2007

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer