Column: Veterans deserve better health care

There’s no place for partisanship when it comes to caring for the women and men who serve this country, and the families who sacrifice alongside them.

We showed that last month when we passed bipartisan legislation to improve access to care for our heroes – the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017 — out of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee by a broad, bipartisan vote.

This bill includes my Community Care Core Competency Act, which will give specific training to doctors outside the Veterans Affairs (VA) system on how to address the unique medical needs of veterans, which can improve detection of invisible injuries, like post-traumatic stress disorder. We need to make sure veterans can see not just good doctors, but doctors who have the training and experience necessary to address their special needs.

The bill also establishes the “Veterans Community Care Program” to better provide timely care to veterans closer to where they live, so veterans and their doctors can decide whether to seek medical care through the VA or in their community.

It would also strengthen opioid safety for veterans. Right now, veterans who receive care outside the VA system don’t have the same protections that monitor opioid prescriptions. This bill will make it easier for veterans to get care in their own communities, while still receiving the protections that are meant to prevent opioid addiction before it starts.

And finally, this package includes my legislation to expand much-needed support for caregivers of veterans. All caregivers, and particularly caregivers of those who served in uniform, shoulder incredible responsibilities. They often put their lives on hold, and sacrifice their own health and finances to care for loved ones.

We already have a successful program to help caregivers for critically wounded or ill veterans, but that aid is only available to caregivers of veterans who served following 9/11. This bill will change that to include veterans from all eras.

Our legislation is on the way to the full Senate, and I’m hopeful we can get this passed with strong, bipartisan support. Our service members and their families sacrifice so much to keep our country safe. We need to ensure that when they return home, they have access to the best healthcare available. This is one area where we can all come together and work for veterans and their families.


Sherrod Brown

Guest columnist



Sherrod Brown is a U.S. Senator, representing Ohio. You may contact him at his office in Cleveland, 801 W. Superior Ave., Suite 1400, Cleveland, OH 44113. You may call his office at 216-522-7272 or 1-888-896-6446.