MTPR

US Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is testing a new program in Montana aimed at connecting rural veterans in a behavioral health crisis to care. According to the state health department, veterans account for more than one out of every five suicide deaths in the state.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester hosted a town hall in Bozeman Tuesday where he answered questions about immigration, healthcare and climate change — among other hot topic issues.

Sen. Jon Tester  (D) - Montana, during a Senate Veterans Affairs hearing Wed, April 10, 2019.
PD

Senator Jon Tester says he’s frustrated with how the Veterans Administration is preparing to roll out legislation he wrote to reform how veterans get health care outside the VA system.

At a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday, Tester questioned VA officials about the Mission Act. He’s expressed concern about it being used as a tool to eventually privatize veterans health care.

US Capitol, May, 2018
Eric Whitney

Last Thursday both of Montana’s U.S. senators were in Missoula for a ceremony honoring the late David J. Thatcher, a World War Two veteran from the city who flew on the famous Doolittle Raid that struck Japan in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.

The ceremony was to put Thatcher’s name on a Veterans Administration health clinic; and veterans health is going to be a big issue this year as Congress gets back to work.

People browsing at a medical marijuana dispensary.
Stock Photo Courtesy Drug Policy Alliance

Federal legislation introduced this week by Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester and Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan would require the Veterans Administration to study medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for veterans.

The "VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act" Directs the VA to begin clinical trials to test the effects of medical marijuana as a treatment for chronic pain and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress.

Senator Jon Tester speaks at a joint hearing of the House and Senate veterans committees on Wednesday. Dec. 19, 2018.
CSPAN screenshot

Sen. Jon Tester said he’s worried that the Veterans Health Administration is straying from the direction Congress gave it when it passed a bill six months ago to reform how vets get health care outside the VA system.

"We could end up with a problem where we’re actually cutting benefits for our veterans moving forward," said Tester at a joint hearing of the House and Senate veterans committees Wednesday

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

On the eve of President Trump’s fourth visit to Montana since July to campaign against Sen. Jon Tester, the Defense Department says it is continuing to investigate charges of professional misconduct by Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson. 

Senator Jon Tester spoke about his record supporting Montana's veterans at a press conference in Butte. October 18, 2018.
Nora Saks / MTPR

On the day President Trump visited Missoula, his third to Montana to stump for Republican Senate-hopeful Matt Rosendale, his Democratic opponent, Sen. Jon Tester, was in Butte with veterans of all political stripes. 

President Donald Trump signed a bill sponsored by Senator Jon Tester Monday that will give additional resources to treat veterans in the criminal justice system across the country.

Tester served as chief co-sponsor of the “Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act,” which passed the Senate unanimously in February of this year.

Unlike in April, there were few fireworks Wednesday over President Trump's nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In April, Democratic Senator Jon Tester endured a tweet-storm from Trump after Tester released a list of anonymous accusations that Trump's previous nominee was unfit for the job. That nominee, Admiral Ronny Jackson, subsequently withdrew his nomination. The President then tweeted that Tester should resign from the Senate, and said he'd come to Montana to campaign against his re-election this year.

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