SIGNED INTO LAW: Latta’s Legislation Supporting Veterans
Today, President Biden signed into law S. 894, the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, which was introduced by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH5) introduced companion legislation, H.R. 2151, in the House of Representatives earlier this year on March 23, 2021.
The Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act will require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with the Department of Defense (DoD) to identify members of the Armed Forces and refer them for recruitment to federal health care departments like the VA.
“Each year 13,000 active-duty medical department military members on average separate from the military, said Latta. "These service members have been medically trained and have provided care to others in the military with poise and distinction. With the signing of the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act, it will be easier for these vets to use the skills they learned while in the Armed Forces to help other veterans, and the VA can benefit from employing patriotic and hardworking veterans. I am grateful to my Senate colleagues and the President for moving quickly to make this bill a law. Providing resources to our veterans has always been a top priority of mine while serving in Congress, and with this legislation, we are able to secure a win for our veterans as they acclimate to civilian life.”
In November 2019, the VA Inspector General stated that staff shortages are a root cause of many of the problems in Veterans’ care. The Department of Defense has robust medical departments in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, totaling 111,462 Active Duty and 67,951 Reserve personnel in 2020. All or part of the medical education and training has been paid for by the Federal government. Their Military Occupation Specialties (MOSs) span the full spectrum of the medical professions from primary care physicians, to neurosurgeons, nurse practitioners, health care administrators, physical therapists, pharmacists, radiology technicians, medical logistician, biomedical maintenance, etc. All of these medical specialties can be utilized in the VHA, and their knowledge of the new electronic health record will also be invaluable. Currently, an average of 13,000 active-duty medical department members separate from the military each year at the end of enlistments/contracts or through retirement. Currently, there is no formal program in place to actively recruit these veterans to remain in federal health care in departments like Veterans Affairs VA.