(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, met with President Joe Biden today to discuss a comprehensive COVID-19 relief plan for veterans—including a robust vaccine distribution plan for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)—to protect veterans in Montana and across the country.
“Today, the President and I agreed that when it comes to the pandemic, veterans have to be a top priority,” said Chairman Tester. “To reach the goal we all share—getting more vaccines into veterans’ arms as quickly as possible—we’ve got to have a comprehensive plan for vaccine distribution and delivery, no matter where a veteran lives. I made clear to President Biden that to get past this virus and get our economy on track, we need a smart, targeted COVID relief package that meets the needs of veterans, and all Americans, by increasing vaccine accessibility, supporting Montana families and small businesses, creating jobs, and getting all of our schools back up and running safely.”
At the meeting, Tester also highlighted the need to increase vaccine production to better protect veterans—especially those in rural areas across Montana. He also stressed the urgent need for additional resources for pressing veteran priorities such as increasing access to mental health care and job training programs, bolstering the safety of veterans and staff at VA facilities and State Veterans Homes, and waiving VA health care copayment debts and billing during the economic crisis.
VA is currently providing vaccines at more than 215 sites nationally with plans to expand to additional sites as vaccine supplies increase. As of February 3, the Department has administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 608,000 veterans and has fully vaccinated over 55,000 veterans—in addition to administering more than 411,000 doses to VA employees.