Braley introduces veterans care bill

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that will help facilities like the Iowa Veterans Home recruit and maintain more doctors – especially in the mental health field.

Braley detailed the bill during his weekly press conference with the Iowa media.

Braley said the bill would allow veterans health facilities to be a part of the National Health Service Corps program which helps pay off school loans and provides scholarship programs for medical school students interested in working in under-served areas. This program is already in place and Braley would like to see its expansion to veterans care facilities.

“I believe that veterans facilities should be able to compete,” Braley said. “(Veterans) deserve the highest quality of care.”

Douglas Steenblock, director of mental health services at IVH, approached Braley with the idea for this bill. Steenblock said they have struggled to recruit and maintain staff, especially in the field of psychology.

“The lack of a student loan repayment program clearly puts us at a competitive disadvantage,” Steenblock said. “Adapting this program to veterans facilities would be relatively simple and would unquestionably improve the quality of healthcare for veterans, particularly those who live in Iowa’s smaller towns and cities.”

Braley introduced the bill Wednesday with hopes to get support from both sides of the aisle.

“It’s the type of thing where there should be no partisan divide,” Braley said.