U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-Flushing) measures to provide veterans with additional resources they need was recently signed into law by the president.
Several of Meng’s provisions were included in the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs Appropriations Act, which was signed into law Oct. 23.
“Our veterans have answered the call of a nation and served honorably at home and abroad, sometimes being far away from family and loved ones for long periods of time,” said Meng. “We must ensure that our veterans have the care and resources they need and deserve to thrive in their communities.”
The measures require the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate easing the burden of filing disability claims for veterans who participated in clean-up activities in Palomares, Spain, and on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Currently, veterans are not presumed to have been previously exposed to radiation when filing claims for disability and medical assistance, according to Meng.
The congresswoman introduced the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act, which would provide healthcare benefits to veterans who participated in the nuclear clean-up of Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands during the late 1970s.
The second measures includes the VA to research the prevalence of Cholangiocarcinoma — a rare cancer caused by exposure to parasites in undercooked fish in Vietnam — in veterans and report to Congress on current efforts to combat the cancer.
Lastly, the Veterans Health Administration to submit a formal report to Congress containing data pertaining to the number of female health care professionals hired in each of the past five years, their job types, and job locations.
The information will help Congress to pursue measures in the coming year to better serve the growing number of female veterans seeking medical care. Meng believes that the VHA should be able to ensure female veterans have the flexibility to choose the gender of their healthcare provider.
Additionally, Meng has worked with her Democratic and Republican colleagues to ensure that the VA has the funds that are necessary to care for Veterans.
Meng supported efforts that secured $86.5 billion in funding for the VA for Fiscal Year 2019, which is $5 billion more than the 2018 enacted level.
Of the total amount funded for the VA, $2 billion will improve the VA’s infrastructure and $348 million will expand opioid treatment and prevention programs for veterans. Meng also worked with her colleagues across the aisle to provide $8.6 billion for mental health and suicide prevention programs at the VA.
The legislation funds the Department of Veterans Affairs through the end of Fiscal Year 2019.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha
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