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Obama signs bill expanding health services for veterans

By Scott Wilson
President Obama signed legislation Wednesday that significantly expands health services available to veterans, saying "there's always more we can do and more that we must do" for those fighting America's wars and those who help them when they return.

Obama said the legislation, called the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, expands mental health and counseling services to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including National Guardsmen and reservists.

It also allows the Veterans Administration to use hospitals outside the VA network to treat more returning soldiers suffering from brain injuries, eliminates co-payments for "catastrophically disabled" veterans, increases housing and transportation assistance for veterans living far from hospitals in rural areas, and expands health care services for women veterans, including maternity care for newborns.

The bill will begin a pilot child-care program for veterans receiving intensive medical care and expand support for homeless veterans -- "because," Obama said in a White House signing ceremony, "no one who has served this nation in uniform should ever be living on the streets."

Obama said the legislation also marks a "major step forward in America's commitment to families and caregivers who tend to our wounded warriors every day."

He said those caring for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will "receive a stipend and other assistance, including lodging when you travel for your loved one's treatment."

"If you need training to provide specialized services, you'll get it. If you need counseling, you'll receive it. If you don't have health insurance, it will be provided," Obama said. "And if you need a break, it will be arranged -- up to 30 days of respite care each year."

The ceremony took place in the State Dining Room, and Obama singled out Ted Wade and his wife, Sarah, in discussing the bill's benefits.

Six years ago, while serving in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division, Wade was severely injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee.

He lost much of his right arm, and suffered traumatic brain injury that kept him in a coma for more than two months. Doctors did not believe he would survive. Sarah has since overseen much of his difficult, painful recovery and convalescence.

"As I've said many times, our nation's commitment to our veterans and their families -- to patriots like Ted and Sarah -- is a sacred trust, and upholding that trust is a moral obligation," Obama said.

By Scott Wilson  |  May 5, 2010; 3:34 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama  
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Comments

In response to "blosmurph" You partisan bigot, you couldn't wait to grab an opportunity to pontificate about the "other side". Did you even read the article before you started to engage your mouth. Maybe if you'd climbed down off that pedestal you placed yourself on, and looked around here in the real world, you'd find that those Tea Party folks are Americans too. That's one of the big problems with your ilk, you can't see past your own "talking points" to get an objective look at another point of view. It's always your way or the highway, right? I'm a Tea Party advocate, but in this case I think what the President has done is a good thing, and he deserves our thanks. You on the other hand are the typical liberal hypocrite. Did you ever consider simply being an American first, before embarking on one of your sophomoric, rancorous, vitriolic rants? You know it's people like you that make the concept of doing anything in a bipartisan, or non-partisan manner, virtually impossible. Grow up and get a life!

Posted by: grizzlie62 | May 7, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I didn't vote for President Obama, I don't like the direction he's taking our country, or the way he's doing it. That said, no true American can deny that what he has done with this legislation is anything less than appropriate for those that risk everything to preserve our way of life. As the saying goes, "Freedom isn't free!" and unfortunately some pay the ultimate price to ensure our freedom, and some come home with life changing injuries. All our service men or women who serves are owed whatever we as a grateful nation can give them. Thank you Mr. President for doing the right thing!

Posted by: grizzlie62 | May 7, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I didn't vote for President Obama, I don't like the direction he's taking our country, or the way he's doing it. That said, no true American can deny that what he has done with this legislation is anything less than appropriate for those that risk everything to preserve our way of life. As the saying goes, "Freedom isn't free!" and unfortunately some pay the ultimate price to ensure our freedom, and some come home with life changing injuries. All our service men or women who serves are owed whatever we as a grateful nation can give them. Thank you Mr. President for doing the right thing!

Posted by: grizzlie62 | May 7, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I would like to read comments/thoughts from others on the reason only the post 9/11 caregivers of disabled vets will be receiving these benefits...thanks

Posted by: pminger | May 6, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

There the President goes again...doing something good for America. Tea Partiers (a.k.a Republicans): shouldn't you be out somewhere protesting with a disrespectful sign?

Posted by: blosmurph | May 6, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

pminger, i'm confused as to why u are complaining? I am also 100% disabled, but i can live on my 100% disability from the VA and my SS disability and i live in southern California. I'm just curious why you and your husband can not live off what you get. He gets all his VA treatment for his service connected problems taken care of by the VA, including his meds at a substantial discount.

What do u think you should be getting???

Posted by: mikey1871 | May 6, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

What about the caregivers of previous wars? I can't stand that we have once again been forgotten...As a wife of a 100% disabled vet I am heartbroken by this discrimination. Wish my husband had never served.

Posted by: pminger | May 6, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"significantly expands health services available to veterans," A great way to buy votes, but 100% of zero is zero. BH O'Carter, yet one more time, displays his total ignorance of from where money comes. Realtiy to BH O'C = The country is bankrupt, you ignorant bowl of dog food.

Posted by: IQ168 | May 6, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Big trees...you are wrong. Go hug a tree lol. Sure vets need additional care after coming back from warfare. I understand and applaud that...however, I read that this bill also declares that all female bathrooms in vet hospitals must be fully stocked with tampons. Yes, that is the change we are looking for!!!

Posted by: carolinanc2002 | May 6, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

What's the Veterans Administration? Do you mean Veterans Affairs?

Posted by: Incredulous2 | May 6, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

What's the Veterans Administration? Do you mean Veterans Affairs?

Posted by: Incredulous2 | May 6, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

One of the best idea ever propagated the past year. Veterans deserve paybacks for them and their families. It is a sort of trade-in.. the lay people are short of saying, give us freedom and we'll support you later. For each soldier is a family, hope, dreams, aspirations. Keeping them alive in times of peace is one of the greates challenge of the economy but should be a priority.

Posted by: statistician | May 6, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Health services for veterans. Great liberal idea. Include all first responders in that, too.

Isn't that in direct contradiction to 43's and Cheney's attempts to limit benefits to veterans? And wasn't it John McCain who voted against veteran benefits because service people would want to leave the service? What a bunch of thugs these republicans really are!

Posted by: BigTrees | May 5, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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