WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate, took to the Senate floor this week with a number of her fellow lawmakers to highlight the one-year anniversary of the VA MISSION Act being signed into law, marking the beginning of its implementation by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Click here or on the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks.

Ernst outlined a number of the law’s benefits, including one significant reform she fought hard for that was included in the law—her VETS Act, which is aimed at increasing telehealth services and allowing rural or disabled veterans to receive care from the comfort of their own home.

Senator Ernst’s remarks are below:

One of the most sacred promises our nation makes is our pledge to care for our men and women in uniform when they return home.

“So when it became clear that the VA was falling short of that standard, I’m proud to say we here in the Senate put politics aside, rolled up our sleeves, and we actually got to work.

“The result: the VA MISSION Act – a bipartisan bill that aims to ensure our veterans are receiving the quality care they have earned and deserve.

“I was honored to have been on hand in the Rose Garden – representing Iowa, its veterans, and its military families – as President Trump signed this bill into law.

“And now, this month, the more than 200,000 veterans across Iowa will begin to see the benefits of those reforms as the VA begins to implement the VA MISSION Act.

“That’s because one major focus of the bill was to make sure it would help the VA do a better job of taking care of our veterans in rural and under-served areas.

“Towards that end, one significant reform that’s going into effect this month aims to allow rural or disabled veterans to receive care from the comfort of their own home by increasing telehealth and telemedicine services provided by the VA. 

“This was a provision I pushed for, starting with my VETS Act, and I’m so glad that it made it into the final package.

“You see, we in Iowa know that rural and disabled vets face an even harder, up-hill battle when it comes to getting quality health care.  This is because doctors aren’t right down the street or a short drive away.

“These folks have to drive many miles just to see a caregiver, and sometimes many more for follow up treatments or procedures.    

“The law includes a lot of other great reforms - it expands VA caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans, it takes steps to modernize VA facilities, increases resources to hire more providers, and helps ensure prompt payment to community providers.

“It’s just another example of how – despite what folks may see on TV – the Senate is passing legislation that is making a positive impact on Americans’ lives.

“Our veterans have selflessly sacrificed in defense of our freedoms, and our great way of life.  They deserve nothing less than the benefits they were promised and better access to quality care.

“With the VA MISSION Act, the Senate has given the VA the tools it needs to work towards keeping that promise.”