Source: WQAD

By John David

Sen. Joni Ernst, (R) Iowa, wants to cut delays for veterans’ mental health care.

It’s her first legislation since taking office.

A staggering 36-day average wait for VA care makes her point.

“This legislation was needed a year ago, two years ago, three years ago,” she said.  “But we have an opportunity now to make a difference, and we should do it.”

Her 99-county tour came to Muscatine’s VFW Hall on Tuesday.

She presented long-lost medals to Vietnam-era veteran Lyle Kemper, 76.

The Muscatine man appreciates her focus on mental health.

“When people go in there, they put their lives on the line and get shot,” he said.  “They come back, have problems, and we disregard them.  That’s not right.”

This bill is very close to Sen. Ernst’s heart.  As a fellow veteran, she notes there are up to 22 veteran-related suicides each day.

She wants to cut care delays by allowing vets access to private services, beefing VA staffing and wiping out distance requirements for clinical help.

“When a veteran is going in for that mental health care, normally they’re at their limit,” she said.  “They need help right away.”

It sounds like a good idea to this audience of about 100.

Veterans who need help can’t afford to wait.

“The rate we’re losing them, all it would take is just a few minutes to save one person,” said VFW District Commander Gary Marquardt.

It’s a possible policy-changer that’s hitting close to home in Muscatine.

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