Brown plan would improve VA access for veterans


Brown plan would improve VA access for veterans

Portsmouth Daily Times – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced legislation that would expand access to services and benefits for veterans living in Appalachia. The Veterans Outreach Enhancement Act would authorize a cooperative agreement between the Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) and Federally Chartered Regional Commissions such as the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-17) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In May 2010, Brown held a field hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs in Cambridge to examine access to services and benefits for veterans living in the Appalachian region. He heard from veterans living throughout southeast Ohio who discussed job retraining, education and disability compensation. Brown also visited the Chillicothe VA Medical Center in April 2010 where he met with VA leadership, union representatives and veterans to examine veterans’ issues, including veteran homelessness and benefit reforms. Brown also toured the Special Care Unit at the facility.

Brown held a hearing in 2007 in New Philadelphia that explored medical issues facing veterans in Appalachia. Following this hearing, Brown introduced the Veterans Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2007 to require the VA to reimburse private hospitals for emergency care before a veteran is transferred to a VA medical facility.

“Veterans in Appalachia deserve the same level of services and benefits received by veterans in Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati,” Brown said. “But veterans in Appalachia face unique challenges — from geographic isolation to misallocation and distribution of resources — too many Appalachian veterans struggle with the VA. It is vital that the VA utilize the ARC’s unique knowledge of the region so all of Ohio’s veterans receive services and benefits they have earned.”

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