Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown joined an Ohio veteran on a news conference call Wednesday as he works to improve healthcare for veterans. Last week, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed a veteran healthcare package, the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017, which included several provisions authored by Brown.

The bill would:

  • Create the “Veterans Community Care Program,” so veterans, along with their doctors, can decide whether to seek medical care at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) or in their community. 
  • Expand eligibility for VA’s veteran caregivers program to include veterans of all generations. Also implement programs to better support veteran caregivers.
  • Give specific training to doctors outside the VA system on how to address veterans’ unique medical needs.  
  • Strengthen VA opioid prescribing guidelines and require community providers to adhere to those guidelines.

“Our servicemembers and their families sacrifice so much to keep our country safe, and we need to ensure that when they return home, they have access to the best healthcare available,”Brown said. “While too much in Washington gets politicized, this is one area where we are still able to come together, roll up our sleeves, and get to work for our veterans and their families.”

Brown was joined on the call by Holly Koester from the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Buckeye Chapter to speak on the importance of the bill to Ohio veterans and their families.

“As a wheelchair athlete and veteran I promote and advocate that there is life after injury, so we need the care that will physically give us the ability to meet life’s challenges and the peace of mind that we will receive the best medical care when and where we need it,” Koester said.

The bill also includes key provisions authored by Brown, which would require VA to publically post all vacancies at medical facilities, and quickly identify and fully hire mental health and primary care provider vacancies at VA.

The Caring for Our Veterans Act is supported by the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, IAVA, Military Officers Association of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Wounded Warriors Project, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.