North Dakota Senators Address Veterans’ Issues

Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp visited the West Fargo VFW for their Mid-Winter Conference

WEST FARGO, N.D. — Both North Dakota senators were in West Fargo speaking to veterans at a VFW post for their mid–winter conference.

There are multiple issues facing veterans these days including budget cuts, homelessness and unemployment, but Senator John Hoeven said North Dakota has made significant progress with veterans’ access to healthcare.

“The VA healthcare system that exists here is absolutely one of the best in the country,” said VFW State Senior Vice Commander Shaun Shenk.

Hoeven highlighted the success of his pilot program, the Veterans Care Coordination. It was recently adopted by the state to help alleviate some of those problems. He said the program has cut the time it takes veterans to access healthcare from nearly one month to just a few days.

“Veterans can get access to care, quality care, on a timely basis and they can either get it directly from the VA or they can get it from their local healthcare provider in their community,” said Hoeven.

Access to healthcare wasn’t the only issue brought up by the senators. There’s also post–traumatic stress disorder, an issue they said there’s still plenty of work to be done on.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp focused on this issue in her speech. She said there’s a lot of work being done to destigmatize the condition and there’s new research looking in to alternative treatments.

“So many of our veterans are offered this. Here have a pill. Make it better with the pill. They don’t want a pill. They don’t want to be dependent on medication the rest of their life. They want to look at alternative strategies,” said Heitkamp.

“There’s always room for progress on post–traumatic stress. The great thing is I know that the VA has definitely made that a target goal for them,” said Shenk.

This event was a two-way dialogue. After the senators were done speaking, they heard firsthand from veterans about their personal experiences and concerns.

“This is our portal to a broader veterans need group and also national priorities,” said Heitkamp.

In addition to the senators, there were also high ranking VFW officials in attendance from around the country.

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