With very little fanfare, president Obama today signed an incredibly moving legislation.
The 'Caregives and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act' is full with steps that will provide great relief to wounded soldiers coming home.
Ted Wade and his wife Sarah, became the face of the bill. Six years ago, Sergeant Wade was badly injured in Iraq. He lost much of his right arm and suffered multiple injuries, including severe traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for more than two months, and doctors said it was doubtful that he would survive. But he did survive, in no small part thanks to the ultimate love of his wife, who became a prominent figure in the effort to improve the lives of veterans.
Here's what's in the bill:
- Expanding mental health counseling and services for veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq, including National Guardsmen and Reservists.
- Authorizing the VA to utilize hospitals and clinics outside the VA system to serve more wounded warriors with traumatic brain injury.
- Increasing support to veterans in rural areas, with the transportation and housing they need to reach VA hospitals and clinics.
4. Expanding and improving health care for women’s veterans, including maternity care for newborn children.
America's daughters have been serving in the U.S. military for centuries, and they're being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in unprecedented numbers. But back home, they're still not guaranteed that the bathrooms at veterans' health care centers will be stocked with tampons. The Government Accountability Office published an audit this spring that found some of 19 health care facilities it surveyed did not always have private bathing areas, even in mixed-gender units. Such lapses in women's health care are growing more painfully apparent as the number of females using the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system is projected to double in the next five years. But in a landmark step toward addressing their needs, President Obama Wednesday afternoon signed a bill bolstering care for female veterans...
Among other measures, the legislation — which was passed with broad bipartisan support — requires the VA to train mental health professionals in caring for the one in five military women who have survived sexual trauma, which increases the risk of mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder by nearly 60%...
The bill also authorizes research on the effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on women's physical, mental and reproductive health. U.S. soldiers have to carry a lot of heavy gear — duffel bags, bulletproof vests, thick boots — through Iraq's dry, 120-degree heat. A reluctance to add to the load by hauling water may lead more female soldiers to become dehydrated in the desert, according to Dr. Samina Iqbal, a member of the VA's national Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group, who notes that some 34% of women return home with genitourinary issues — reproductive system disorders, urinary tract infections, and the like — compared to just 8% of men...
- Launching a pilot program to provide child care for veterans receiving intensive medical care.
- Eliminating co-pays for veterans who are catastrophically disabled.
- Expanding support to homeless veterans.
- Caregivers for a severely injured veteran from Afghanistan or Iraq, will now receive a stipend and other assistance, including lodging when they travel for their loved one’s treatment. They'll get training to provide specialized services, counseling, and if they don’t have health insurance, it will be provided. If they need a break, they'll get up to 30 days of respite care each year.
President Obama, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden with and Sarah Wade and her husband Sgt. Ted Wade.