In Iraq address, Obama gives nod to veteran health care

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Returning Servicemen and women

By Meredith Melnick in Time

In his Oval Office address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq — and with it a return to challenges at home, especially those faced by veterans. Obama pointed to his Post-9/11 GI Bill — which came into effect in August 2009 and has since helped 300,000 veterans achieve a college education — as evidence of his commitment to veteran well-being. Further, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder as a “signature wound of today’s wars,” Obama highlighted the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (CVOHSA), passed in May, which is designed to improve health care for returning veterans. But what does the bill really say? Below, five ways that CVOHSA should help veterans and their families:

1. Caregivers will be recognized and compensated

As many families of service members know, a soldier who returns from war with brain trauma or a missing limb requires support at home. That can be financially and emotionally taxing. CVOHSA will allow one family member to act as the veteran’s primary personal care provider, and to serve as a liaison between the veteran and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Under the new law, the caregiver will earn a competitive salary, paid for by the government, and have access to his or her own medical and psychological support.

2. The VA will study barriers to care of female veterans and improve current services

Given the high rate of sexual assault among women in uniform (nearly one-third of all female veterans report having been raped), the bill’s provision to increase hiring of mental health professionals who specialize in sexual trauma is overdue. Childcare services for female veterans during any period of medical treatment will also be ramped up.

See Meredith Melnick in Time

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