WASHINGTON - Today, the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, first introduced by U.S. Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), passed the House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into public law.

The Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a program that will help actively recruit medical personnel, who are within one year of completing their military service, to remain in federal health care in departments like Veterans Affairs.

Representatives Robert E. Latta (OH-05) and Kathleen M. Rice (NY-04) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m proud to see the House of Representatives pass this important legislation and move it one step closer to becoming law. The VA Inspector General has reported that staff shortages are a challenge for solving problems in Veteran care. This bill will empower the VA to proactively recruit active duty medical personnel who are separating from the military at the conclusion of their contract or at retirement to improve health care services for Veterans. We owe it to our brave veterans who deserve the absolute best services available. God bless the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.” said Senator Braun.

BACKGROUND

In November 2019, the VA Inspector General stated that staff shortages are a root cause of many of the problems in Veterans’ care. The Department of Defense has robust medical departments in the Army, Navy, and Air Force totaling 111,462 Active Duty and 67,951 Reserve personnel in 2020. All or part of the medical education and training has been paid for by the Federal government. Their Military Occupation Specialties (MOSs) span the full spectrum of the medical professions from primary care physicians, to neurosurgeons, nurse practitioners, health care administrators, physical therapists, pharmacists, radiology technicians, medical logistician, biomedical maintenance, etc. All of these medical specialties can be utilized in the VHA, and their knowledge of the new electronic health record will also be invaluable. Currently, an average of 13,000 active duty medical department members separate from the military each year at the end of enlistments/contracts or through retirement. There is no formal program in place to actively recruit them to remain in federal health care in departments like Veterans Affairs (VA).

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