CHILLICOTHE, OHIO – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today joined VA leaders and local veterans to discuss access to medical care, homelessness in the veteran population, and training and education programs for veterans.

Sen. Brown at the Veterans Roundtable in Chillicothe“It is our moral responsibility to provide all of our nation’s veterans with the benefits they’ve earned with their service,” Brown said. “Veterans who live in rural communities face unique barriers to critical health care and benefits. Today’s roundtable is an important way to find new solutions to make sure all of Ohio’s veterans have access to their earned VA benefits.”

Brown has been an outspoken advocate in Congress on issues facing veterans in Appalachia and other rural communities. In February, Brown attended a senate hearing entitled “Caring for Veterans in Rural Areas,” in which he questioned expert witnesses on strategies to provide quality health care for veterans in rural areas.

Brown held a joint field hearing with Congressman Zach Space (OH-18) that examined issues facing veterans in Appalachia. In response, Brown authored, and successfully passed, the Veterans’ Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2007, which requires the VA reimburse community hospitals for all care a veteran receives before a veteran is transferred to another facility.

Before the Senate adjourned for recess last week, Brown introduced two initiatives to strengthen our nation’s commitment to our veterans by improving education reimbursements and expanding employment protection for former service members. Brown’s Veterans Education Tuition Support (VETS) Act of 2009 would foster new educational support for service members whose higher education is suspended due to service. In addition, Brown’s Wounded Veteran Job Security Act would improve employment protections for veterans in their civilian careers.

Earlier this year, Brown announced $1 million for the Veterans Administration Healthcare System of Ohio (VISN 10). The funds were awarded to regional health care systems to improve services specifically designed for veterans in rural areas. These federal funds will be used to increase the number of mobile clinics, create new outpatient clinics, expand fee-based health care services, establish connections between federal and community health partners, increase the use of telemedicine programs and fund new, developing health pilot programs.