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Donnelly Aims To Pass Veteran Treatment Language One Of Two Ways

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A bill to expand mental healthcare for veterans has cleared a first hurdle in the Senate, but Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) says there are multiple ways he can try to write the provisions into law.

The Armed Services Committee sent the mental-health bill to the floor last week as part of a national defense bill. But Donnelly says he'll also work through the Veterans Affairs Committee to add coverage for veterans as well.

The bill authored by Donnelly and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) would give veterans and their families access to local providers for help with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental-health issues linked to their service. It also calls for training for local centers to help them understand the unique issues veterans deal with.

"They are making life and death decisions every day at the age of 21 or 22 and we want to make sure we’re there for them not only that day, but when they come home," Donnelly says.

Indiana has VA hospitals in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Marion, and outpatient clinics in 15 other cities. But Donnelly says the flow of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is too great for the VA to handle alone. And he says servicemembers should have access to mental healthcare within their communities.

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