(Originally released on November 19, 2014. Washington, DC.)
Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village), Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, presided over a hearing that considered seven bills, including Brownley’s bill, the Expanding Care for Veterans Act (H.R. 4887). Brownley’s bill would expand complementary and alternative medicine and mental health care options for our nation’s veterans and received broad support from the Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) that provided testimony to the Subcommittee.
“I believe that we must find more and better ways to provide our veterans with the health care they need,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “There are many organizations throughout the country that are achieving very positive results using complementary and alternative medicine to treat mental health issues. My bill would require VA to do a better job of evaluating what works, and when it does, find a way to provide those therapies to our veterans who are in need.”
The Expanding Care for Veterans Act would:
Expand research and education on, and delivery of, complementary and alternative medicine to veterans;
Establish a program on integration of complementary and alternative medicine within the Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers;
Study the barriers encountered by veterans in receiving, and administrators and clinicians in providing, complementary and alternative medicine services furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs; and
Establish a program on the use of wellness programs as complementary approach to mental health care for veterans and family members of veterans.
Complementary and alternative medicine is intended to enhance, reinforce, or replace traditional, mainstream therapies. For instance, in Ventura County, Reins of Hope’s assisted psychotherapy program to improve mental health, self-esteem, communication skills, and interpersonal relationships.
On February 20, 2014, Congresswoman Brownley held a field hearing at CSU Channel Islands to bring attention to the need to expand complementary and alternative medicine, in order to improve care for our veterans and reduce wait times for mental health visits. Because of the successes highlighted at that hearing, and through subsequent VA contact with the program, VA has decided to expand services with Reins of H.O.P.E.
“Throughout the 113th Congress, the VA Committee has held hearings at which we have heard from veterans about the need to expand complementary and alternative medicine in order to improve care for our veterans and reduce wait times for mental health visits,” Congresswoman Brownley said. “I am hopeful that my bill can move forward, and appreciate the support that many of the VSOs have shown for my bill.”