Last week, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) delivered her maiden speech on the Senate floor and introduced her first piece of legislation, the Prioritizing Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care Act. This bill provides a back-stop to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health care treatment, other than an emergency room, and prioritizes incentives to hire more mental health care professionals at the VA.

What They Are Saying About Sen. Ernst’s

Prioritizing Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care Act

Quad-City Times Editorial: “This week, Ernst served veterans and Iowans wonderfully well with specific legislation and a passionate plea to fix a problem she knows better than perhaps any other U.S. senator.” (Quad-City Times, 3/27/15)

  • Quad-City Times: “With strong words and clear resolve, Sen. Joni Ernst introduced her first legislation Monday in a floor speech we wish more Americans would hear.” (Quad-City Times, 3/27/15)
  • Quad-City Times: “We’re among Iowans cheering Ernst’s sensible call to go outside the Veterans Affairs Administration when needed to give veterans faster, closer mental health care when VA hospitals and clinics cannot respond.” (Quad-City Times, 3/27/15)
  • Quad-City Times: “We urge her congressional colleagues to heed the lieutenant colonel. Pass legislation providing immediate mental health treatment to these veterans who have faced the horrors of war for us.” (Quad-City Times, 3/27/15)

Des Moines Register: “In her first floor speech since taking office in January, Ernst, an Iraq War veteran, devoted nearly all of her remarks to the needs of military veterans, saying they're not getting enough help transitioning back to civilian life.” (Des Moines Register, 3/23/15)

KWQC: “Senator Joni Ernst introduced new legislation to help veterans get quick access to mental healthcare.” (KWQC, 3/23/15)

KCAU: “Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is making the health of the nation's veterans the cornerstone of her first piece of legislation.” (KCAU, 3/23/15)

Radio Iowa: “The bill would make hiring more psychiatrists a higher priority for the Veterans Administration, plus Ernst proposes expanding coverage so veterans could seek mental health care elsewhere if they’d have a lengthy wait at a VA facility.” (Radio Iowa, 3/23/15)

KWWL: “Senator Ernst, as we all know, is a veteran herself and says that this bill is one that is very close to her heart.” (KWWL, 3/23/15)


Support for the Prioritizing Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care Act

Senator Ernst discussed the legislation and support on KCRG.

KCRG: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, was quick to praise Ernst’s bill and speech after she yielded the floor. ‘[Ernst is] obviously bringing to the Senate real expertise about the needs that she addressed in her first piece of legislation. I expect it will enjoy broad bipartisan support, particularly with the sponsor having such firsthand knowledge of the needs of these returning veterans,’ McConnell said.” (KCRG, 3/23/15)

  • Watch Leader McConnell’s full remarks here.

WHO: “Sen. Ernst’s bill is already seeing support. Several senators have signed on as co-sponsors including Sen. Chuck Grassley. Also, the Wounded Warrior Project and Concerned Veterans for America have both signed on in support of the legislation.” (WHO, 3/25/15)

WGEM: “Craig says it wasn't easy for Vietnam veterans like him to get treatment for PTSD through the VA. He says veterans have to wait several weeks to get into a VA clinic. ‘I think her sponsoring this bill is a very positive thing and I think the sooner people can get treatment the better,’ Craig said.” (WGEM, 3/25/15)

  • WGEM: “Quincy psychologist Dr. Frank Froman says the wait is unacceptable. ‘It fills in a major gap obviously, because veterans have sometimes immediate and instant psychological needs and they can't wait for the average 34, 35, 36 days in order to get their first appointment for a screening,’ Froman said. Froman says the VA system is overloaded with veterans returning from Afghanistan and something needs to be done because waiting for care can lead to tragedy.” (WGEM, 3/25/15)


Click here to watch Senator Ernst’s maiden speech.


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