This week as we celebrate Veterans Day, we are reminded that we have more work to do to make sure our veterans are receiving the benefits they have earned and deserve. One of the biggest areas we need to improve is the health care our veterans are receiving.
As many know, one of the biggest issues facing veterans is VA medical facilities struggle to recruit and retain qualified health professionals, especially in rural areas like many parts of Wisconsin. That’s why last week I introduced the bipartisan Veterans Access to Care Act, which will help VA facilities recruit qualified mental health professionals, doctors, dentists, and nurses.
In recent years, a number of VA clinics, including ones in Wisconsin Rapids and Wausau, have been forced to turn away veterans due to a shortage of physicians. The Tomah VA Medical Center has also been forced to cut back services due to problems recruiting physicians. That is unacceptable.
This bill would designate VA medical facilities as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Doing so would allow VA medical facilities to compete for National Health Service Corps fellows, which is a program that pays student loan repayment or gives scholarships to doctors, dentists, mental health professionals, nurses, or medical students who pledge to practice in a HPSA for at least two years.
Our veterans made sacrifices to protect our country, and it is only fair to give them proper health care. Through more recruiting tools to bring good doctors to Wisconsin, we can better ensure that veterans are receiving the care and treatment that they earned and deserve.
Providing quality care for our veterans is not a partisan issue. I will continue to work with anyone willing to ensure better access to health care for our veterans.
I hope everyone joins me in taking time this Veterans Day to recognize the sacrifices our veterans have made for our country.