Senator Jon Tester's latest bipartisan veterans' services bills are now law.
The comprehensive Honoring America's Veterans Act included multiple provisions written by Tester to improve access to health care for veterans living in rural areas.
Tester's first provision requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans travelling to Vet Centers from highly rural areas. He also successfully included a waiver to ensure veterans using telehealth facilities are not required to make copayments.
The VA has telehealth clinics in Plentywood and Hamilton.
"Our fighting men and women deserve the same level of care no matter where they call home," said Tester, Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "This bill helps the VA tackle the unique challenges of living in a rural area and goes a long ways to helping rural veterans access the care they earned."
The new law, which won unanimous approval in the Senate, also authorizes the VA to provide housing assistance to veterans affected by fires and other natural disasters.
Tester is also pushing a bill to require the Department of Defense to allow reservists access to mental health care throughout the year so military members are ready for deployment. Reservists currently can receive treatment from Defense Department providers only during the 180-day intensive training period before deployment.