Meng Secures Numerous Measures to Assist Veterans
Aug 27, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced today that she has secured a number of important provisions to assist veterans. These measures are items that the Congresswoman attached to several fiscal year 2020 spending bills that recently passed the House of Representatives. They consist of the following:
Providing $840 million to fund the VA Medical Research Program which consists of funding for medical, rehabilitative, and health services research for veterans.
Providing $60 million to fund the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program which provides homeless veterans with job training and apprenticeship opportunities.
Providing $25 million to fund Veterans Treatment Courts which provide support and treatment for certain offenses committed by veterans as an alternative to incarceration.
Directing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to ensure that free menstrual hygiene products are made available in public female, unisex, and family restrooms in all VA facilities. There are concerns that not all VA facilities have committed to their own VHA directive with regards to these products and their accessibility. The provision also includes a reporting requirement on the full distribution and implementation.
Calling for the VHA to provide an impact study detailing the challenges and effectiveness of its Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) which seeks to address opioid safety for veterans. The provision calls for the study to be submitted to Congress within 90 days of the measure’s enactment.
Urging the VHA to conduct a feasibility study of establishing women-only clinics in each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN). Establishing such facilities would help combat the harassment that women veterans have had to endure at VA healthcare facilities.
Directing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to submit a report to Congress regarding its collection of mental health data on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) veterans. The report, which must be submitted to Congress within 90 days of the provision’s enactment, seeks to improve and increase the amount of data specific to veterans of AAPI descent. Presently, there is little data available on this issue.
Urging the Secretary of Defense to develop and adopt a survey for servicemembers as they leave the military in order to assess the underlying reasons for mid-career attrition. The measure would seek to retain females in the military by determining why their attrition levels are higher than those of males at various mid-career points.
Meng was also proud to have supported critical funding for VA medical care including: $9.5 billion in mental healthcare services; $222 million in suicide prevention outreach activities; $582 million for gender-specific care for women; $1.9 billion for homeless assistance programs; $397 million for opioid abuse prevention; and $270 million in rural health initiatives. The Congresswoman also supported other important items such as reducing the disability claims backlog; continuing the implementation of the VA electronic health record system; and funding requirements for veteran disability compensation programs for veterans and their survivors; education-vocational benefits and employment training.
In addition to the above items, Meng authored several provisions to help members of the military that were included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which passed the House last month. Her measures would allow all female servicemembers to defer their deployment for up to one year after giving birth to a child; permanently authorize the Suicide Prevention and Resilience Program; and require a probe on military installations that may have water lines made out of lead. Further, she reintroduced bipartisan legislation to bring critical health care benefits to “Atomic Veterans” who were exposed to high levels of deadly radiation when assigned to clean up nuclear testing sites in Enewetak Atoll on the Marshall Islands during the late 1970s.
“I am proud to keep up the fight for our nation’s veterans,” said Meng. “These brave men and women proudly served our nation and now they deserve our unwavering support for the sacrifices they made. I will continue to do all I can to ensure that our veterans have the resources they need and services they require.”
Meng’s provisions were included in several different appropriations bills including Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies; Defense; Commerce, Justice, Science; and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.