Chairman, Under Secretary met directly with veterans, VA employees, and health care providers in Billings and Miles City
In his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, U.S. Senator Jon Tester brought Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal to tour Montana today, where they met directly with veterans and health care providers in Billings and Miles City to discuss challenges in accessing earned health care.
During the stops on their trip, they covered a number of topics, including implementation of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Actimproving care in the community, and ensuring access to life-saving mental health care.
“It’s an honor to bring VA Under Secretary for Health Elnahal to Montana to hear firsthand about the challenges facing our veterans and health care workers,” said Chairman Tester. “Dr. Elnahal plays a major role in ensuring veterans have access to earned health care, and we discussed ways we can better improve that access right here in Montana. I look forward to continuing to work with him to do right by the folks we work for—the men and women who served our nation.”
In Billings, the Chairman and VA Under Secretary met with VA providers and human resources professionals at the Benjamin Charles Steele VA Clinic to discuss challenges with recruiting and retaining providers in Montana. They also held an in-person town hall with local veterans and community leaders to discuss improving access to VA and community care.
Tester and Elnahal will continue their tour in Miles City, where they will host roundtables with veterans, advocates, and health care providers to solicit feedback on how to better improve veterans’ access to mental health care and strengthen support for providers in rural areas. They will conclude the visit by meeting with rural hospital administrators to discuss delivering rural veterans’ care in the community.
As the only member of the Montana delegation who sits on the Committee, Tester is a staunch supporter in delivering Montana veterans’ earned care and benefits. He worked tirelessly to deliver long-overdue support to toxic-exposed veterans earlier this year through his bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022. He also championed the landmark Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (Hannon Act) to bolster the VA’s mental health workforce and increase outreach to veterans in rural states like Montana, and is continuing to push for additional support in the Support the Resilience of Our Nation’s Great (STRONG) Veterans Act. He remains committed to working on new reforms to keep expanding critical health care and benefits to veterans, their families, and survivors.