As the son of an Army veteran, Congressman Schiff believes that Congress and the nation have an obligation to provide adequate health care for all our military personnel--whether they are currently serving or have served and are now retired.
The demographics of today's veteran population have changed significantly from the veteran population of a decade ago. We have learned from the experiences of past generations of veterans about the traumatic injuries that can occur during war, both mental and physical. With this understanding, as a nation, we can improve upon the care provided to our veterans as they return from deployment. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) face an ongoing challenge to decrease the historical stigma associated with mental health issues, while increasing the awareness and availability of treatment for mental health issues for our servicemembers.
The injuries resulting from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are significant, enduring and life altering, such as poly-trauma, multi-limb amputation, traumatic brain injury (TBI), toxic exposure from hazardous disposal sites and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The VA and DoD are working hard to provide necessary health care to treat these various issues, while continuing to study and gather data that will help prevent some of these injuries in the future.
In February 2011, Schiff co-signed a letter to the Secretaryof Defense, Robert Gates[MSOffice1] , urging DoD to allow servicemembers with mild to severe TBI to receive cognitive rehabilitation therapy under TRICARE coverage, if they desire access to that therapy.
Schiff is also a co-sponsor of the following legislation in the 112th Congress that will improve the health care available to our servicemembers and veterans of the armed forces:
· TBI Treatment Act(H.R. 396): Sets up a 5-year pilot program that authorizes DoD/VA payments for certain treatments of traumatic brain injury and PTSD for veterans and members of the Armed Forces at facilities that are not VA medical facilities or military treatment facilities.
· Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act(H.R. 329): Amends the VA Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-135) to require a program under which the VA provides chiropractic care and services to veterans through VA medical centers and clinics. The bill also includes chiropractic examinations and services within required VA medical, rehabilitative and preventive health care services.
· K-9 Companion Corps Act(H.R. 943): Establishes a joint DoD/VA program to provide competitive grants to nonprofit organizations that provide assistance dogs to covered members and veterans with one of the following disabilities: blindness or visual impairment; loss of use of a limb, paralysis, or other significant mobility issues; loss of hearing; TBI; PTSD; or any other disability that the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans' Affairs consider appropriate.