(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is urging Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to provide emergency aid and support to Montana veterans, their families, and communities affected by recent flooding through its Fourth Mission—an authority used as a backup health care system in support of the nation in times of emergency.
“VA plays an important role in assisting veterans and the nation in times of crisis, including natural disasters and emergencies,” the Senator wrote to VA Secretary McDonough. “I ask for VA’s support to aid Montana veterans and families in their time of need during this once in a millennia catastrophe.”
He added, “In keeping with VA’s previous work locating and aiding veterans in natural disaster zones, I ask for the Department to reach out to all known veterans living in the flooded areas and evacuation zones. Many Montanans in the flood zones have been left without access to clean water or power. Veterans who have been displaced may also have unreliable access to essential medications or power for using CPAP machines or other health care equipment.”
In the letter, Tester highlighted VA’s past invocation of the Fourth Mission, which provided states and communities experiencing natural disasters, including wildfires, hurricanes, and COVID-19, with needed support. He additionally requested the Department:
- Work with state and local authorities to determine if affected communities require health care support from VA, including:
- Sharing bed space at VA Montana’s Fort Harrison Medical Center, sharing health care supplies and equipment, or deploying a mobile medical unit;
- Deploy a mobile Vet Center to the affected areas or to shelters housing Montanans who were forced to evacuate their homes;
- Work with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to provide emergency transportation through DAV vans; and
- Identify disability claims relief options for veterans affected by the Montana flooding, including allowing multiple no-fault reschedules for disability medical examinations, expediting the claims process, and suspending all response deadlines.
He continued, “VA continues to step up in times of crisis, and I hope the Department can extend a hand to Montanans in need affected by this devastating flooding. Thank you for your partnership in serving veterans in Montana and beyond.”
Read the Senator’s full letter HERE.