Mikulski Co-Sponsors Two Veteran Support Bills

"Our veterans need to know that America is with them, and that we owe them a debt of gratitude," said Mikulski

WASHINGTON - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) announced today that she is co-sponsoring two veteran-related bills - the Veterans Employment and Training (VET) Act of 2007 and the Lane Evans Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act - to improve veteran health care and education services.

"We have a sacred trust with the veterans who risked their lives so that we may live in freedom. Part of that sacred trust is making sure we provide our veterans with the services and support they need, on the battlefield and at home," said Senator Mikulski. "Our veterans need to know that America is with them, and that we owe them a debt of gratitude. I will continue to fight for our true American heroes."

The VET Act, introduced today by a bipartisan group of Senators led by Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), would help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to transition into the civilian workforce by making short-term, high-cost training programs more affordable for them. It would expand the Accelerated Payment Program under the Montgomery GI Bill to include job training education in high-growth sectors of the economy for the next four years. Senator Mikulski also sponsored this legislation in the 109th Congress but, despite passing the full Senate last August, the bill never became law.

The Lane Evans Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act (S. 117) requires the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to share data for greater accountability for veterans returning home and entering the VA system. It also outlines new improvements for veterans' medical treatment, including extending the window of time to allow new veterans to obtain mental health care from the VA from two years to five years, and requiring face-to-face medical exams. Because Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems can take many years to manifest themselves, this bill would require the DOD to conduct in-person physical and mental health exams with every service member 30-90 days after deployment to a war zone to better identify and care for those at risk for PTSD. This effort is being led by Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

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