January 20, 2015

SOTU: Katherine Kidder on Veteran's Issues

By Katherine Kidder

With two years left in his administration, the President must use his State of the Union address to highlight how he will follow through on the veterans initiatives set forth throughout his administration. He should draw attention to his 2009 commitment to DOD-VA health care integration—which has yet to come to fruition to date—and provide a pathway for implementation. He has a further opportunity to call on the Department of Defense to assist in closing the civil-military divide by providing accurate and timely information about departing service members to the states and communities that veterans will call home once leaving the service.

He must also address his 2011 commitment to improve mental health care for service members and veterans. He can use the opportunity call on Congress to pass legislation aimed at increasing VA mental health care competency, such as the Clay Hunter Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act now before the Senate. He should insist upon effective Congressional oversight of the VA under the new constructs put forth by the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014.

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