WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) bill to help improve healthcare for our nation's veterans passed out of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee with nearly unanimous support. The bill would give specific training to doctors outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system on how to address veterans’ unique medical needs. It was included with other bills in a larger package titled the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017, to improve access to healthcare for all veterans. 

“Our veterans have unique health needs connected to their service to our country,” said Brown. “It’s critical to give all doctors who treat our veterans the training they need to provide the best care possible to our heroes.”

The Community Care Core Competency Act would help the VA offer continuing medical education specific to veterans for doctors outside the VA. It would help these doctors prepare to care for injuries or illnesses caused by veterans’ service, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Brown's bill was included in a larger veterans healthcare package that would establish a new program to better provide timely care to veterans closer to where they live. The bill would create the "Veterans Community Care Program," so veterans, along with their doctors, can decide whether to seek medical care at VA or in their community. The bill would also improve VA’s opioid prescribing guidelines and require community providers to adhere to those guidelines. The bill also includes key provisions authored by Brown, which would require VA to publically post all vacancies at medical facilities, and quickly identify and fully hire mental health and primary care provider vacancies at VA. Additionally, the bill expands much needed support for the caregivers of severely injured, ill, or wounded veterans by including legislation Brown introduced in March. These provisions will strengthen the medical services VA provides to better serve Ohio veterans and their families.