Bills Would Increase Mental Health Care for Veterans

Mar 11, 2015
United States Senate

US Senator Joe Donnelly is introducing three more bills aimed at increasing the quality of  mental health care given to the country’s armed forces and veterans.  

Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly calls his three bills a “care package” for service members.     

The proposed legislation would require the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to  provide the best care for mental health conditions.  It would also help train community health  providers and new physician assistants in mental health care to address what Donnelly says is a national provider shortage. 

Ellie Bogue

Most garden activity this time of year is limited to daydreaming over seed catalogs, but two Fort Wayne residents, Holly Chaille and Sheila Hudson, are busy cultivating a brand new urban gardening and Horticultural Healing Program, expressly for veterans.

Beginning in March, "Greenleaf" will provide a nine month, hands-on vocational training opportunity for fifteen vets to grow new skills for work in horticulture-related fields, and organic gardens to benefit the community.

Courtesy / NOD

Nearly half of all military veterans returning to the workforce leave their jobs in the first year. But one organization, the National Organization on Disability, is helping employers focus on retaining, not just recruiting, veterans to the workforce.

The unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans in Indiana is more than double the state average. Nationally, the turnover rate for veterans returning to the workforce is about 50 percent in the first year, and about 75 percent within two years. 

Military with PTSD

Independence Day has not yet arrived, but fireworks have been going off in some Indiana neighborhoods for several weeks now. And that can pose a big problem for some military veterans.

A campaign is trying to change that with photos, signs, and a little help from the internet.

The post has gained over a million “Likes” this week on Facebook: a man with a yard sign that reads “Combat Veteran Lives Here -- Please Be Courteous with Fireworks.”

Indiana Civil Rights Commission

An Indiana law enacted this week aims to protect veterans from employment discrimination. 

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans in Indiana and across the U.S. face significantly higher unemployment rates that non-vets.

State Representative Martin Carbaugh of Fort Wayne co-authored the law, which makes it illegal for employers to refuse employment for veterans or members of the Indiana National Guard or reserve, based on their veteran status.

Results from an internal audit of the Veterans Affairs Department say the Indianapolis VA medical center requires further review.

The internal audit was convened in the wake of the VA scandal that uncovered manipulated schedule times and falsified waiting lists at facilities across the country, leading to lapses in patient care and, in some cases, deaths. 

Indianapolis’ Roudebush VA Medical Center was one of more than a hundred nationwide identified as needing further review. 

A Republican state senator wants each state agency to set aside 10% of its contracts each year for veteran-owned small businesses, a move supporters say the will help reduce veteran unemployment.

Governor Mike Pence signed an executive order his first day in office establishing a goal of procuring three percent of state contracts for veteran-owned businesses. 

Proposed legislation would expand that to 10%, something American Legion state commander Richard Jewell says could help reduce veteran unemployment, which is double the state rate.

If job creation is priority No. 1 for lawmakers this session, job placement for veterans seems to be priority 1-A, with new legislation aimed at getting servicemembers back to work.

The unemployment rate for younger veterans – those of the post 9/11 era – is considerably higher than the rate for average Hoosiers.