WASHINGTON - Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter voted on Thursday for legislation that improves access to quality medical care for wounded members of our armed services. The Wounded Warrior Assistance Act,H.R. 1538, passed with unanimous support in the House of Representatives, 426-0.
More than 24,000 service members have been wounded in Iraq,with at least 10,500 unable to return to duty.
The legislation creates a system of patient advocates and counselors who help ensure that veterans get the healthcare they deserve under existing law. To ensure high-quality service, advocates would be assigned no more than 30 outpatient cases.
In order to address problems like those recently reported at Walter Reed ArmyMedical Center, the act establishes a toll-free hotline through which veterans can report problems with health care facilities or services. It would also require the Department of Defense to submit a yearly report on the condition of military medical facilities.
Furthermore, the legislation creates a formal process for helping soldiers make the transition from medical care under the auspices of the Armed Services to medical care under the Veterans Administration.
"The Bush administration did not plan for a prolonged war in Iraq and once again they have failed our troops," said Shea-Porter. "If you commit to fighting a war, you must also commit to caring for the troops- on the battlefield and at home. I am proud that this Congress has moved quickly to provide high-quality care for our veterans and oversight of military medical facilities so we can meet our national obligation."
The Wounded Warrior Assistance Act completes a series of bills which Shea-Porter has supported since she assumed office in January. The Lane Evans Mental Health and Benefits Improvement Act, of which Shea-Porter is an original sponsor, extends the period in which returning soldiers can obtain free health care. It also requires that those returning from active duty be screened for symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is thought to be prevalent among troops serving in Iraq.
Shea-Porter also voted in favor of the Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, the Veterans Vision Equity Act, and the Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. All three bills passed the House.
She also voted for the U.S.Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act, which eliminates the "back-door draft," guarantees that soldiers are fully rested before they are redeployed, provides essential funding for the troops while they remain in Iraq, and sets benchmarks and dates for withdrawal.
Finally, in the wake of reports that wounded soldiers at Fort Benning were being returned to Iraq before they completelyrecovered from their injuries, she led a successful drive to initiate an investigation.
According to Shea-Porter,"We're just trying to do what's right."