For three decades, I have had the honor and privilege to serve alongside many of the brave men and women in the Ohio Army National Guard. Through the years, veterans in all branches of service have made sacrifices and faced incredible adversities in foreign lands to secure our freedoms and keep us safe. Often, however, the greatest adversity our veterans face when they return home is attempting to readjust to daily life.
Fortunately, there is a wide array of resources available to help with this transition, and due to the veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the demand for those services is growing. That’s why on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon, I will be hosting a Veterans Resource Fair at the Upper Arlington Municipal Building.
My goal is to connect area veterans with the people and organizations offering federal, state, local and nonprofit services, all in one location. This will allow veterans to meet with multiple organizations to discuss how they may be able to help with benefits, employment, health care, and other support. For more information, please contact my Hilliard District office at (614) 771-4968 or visit my website at stivers.house.gov.
I am grateful for the many organizations that provide critical services for our veterans. As a Member of Congress, one of my top priorities is to ensure our veterans are receiving the highest quality of care and support. Earlier this year, an issue with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was brought to my attention by a local news report.
The report revealed that many veterans in need of orthotic and prosthetic services had been seen by staff who were not required to meet the same licensing standards as prosthetists who serve civilian patients. This is unacceptable. Our veterans deserve the best medical care, especially when it is something as highly specialized as fitting prosthetic limbs. While we have made some progress in improving the medical care at the VA, there is clearly still work to be done.
I have been working to address this issue through legislation that would ensure our veterans will receive care from properly certified and trained professionals.
In April, I passed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Military and Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill to prohibit the VA from paying salaries to uncertified prosthetists and orthotists. That was the first step. Now I am sponsoring bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) that would ensure a more permanent fix by requiring that orthotists, prosthetists and other staff members included on the VA amputee clinic teams be properly certified by the appropriate board,
Furthermore, our veterans are also coming home with non-physical wounds and it is just as important that we are prepared to treat these conditions. Issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression have led to an unusually high suicide rate among our veterans. One therapy proven to work is service dog training.
In fact, preliminary research from Kaiser Permanente shows veterans who have service dogs show fewer symptoms of PTSD and depression, have better interpersonal relationships, a lower risk of substance abuse and better overall health. For veterans who live alone when coming home, taking care of these dogs also give them a sense of responsibility and purpose.
I have been working on bipartisan legislation to make this therapy more available to veterans at our VA facilities. While this therapy would not fully solve the problem, I do believe it can help a number of veterans in need. As a country, we have a responsibility to give back to our veterans who have given us so much, and I will continue working to ensure they receive the care they deserve.
As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Ohio’s 15th Congressional District and I look forward to hearing from you about any federal issues facing our nation. Please do not hesitate to call my Washington D.C. Office at (202) 225-2015, Hilliard Office at (614) 771-4968, Lancaster Office at (740) 654-2654, or Wilmington Office at (937) 283-7049 to share your thoughts with me.
Steve Stivers (R-OH) represents Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.