Latta’s bill to hire veteran healthcare personnel headed to president’s desk

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation supported by U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) to help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) actively recruit and hire separating U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) medical department personnel to fill its more than 45,000 open positions is slated to become law.

“Once the president signs this bill into law, we will be one step closer to helping the men and women of our military as they acclimate to civilian life,” Rep. Latta said on Nov. 15. “At the same time, we will also be filling the lingering employment vacancies at the VA and other federal healthcare departments.”

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday gave voice vote approval to the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, S. 894, which was introduced on March 23 by U.S. Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). The U.S. Senate passed the bill in July. Rep. Latta sponsored the identical version, H.R. 2151, in the U.S. House alongside lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). 

Specifically, the measure directs the VA to create a program to help actively recruit medical personnel, who are within one year of completing their military service, to remain in federal health care, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Latta’s staff.

“Providing resources to our veterans has always been a top priority of mine while serving in Congress,” said Rep. Latta. “The Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act is a common-sense bill that will make it easier for veterans to use the skills they learned and utilized while enlisted to join federal health care departments where they can help others.”

Currently, an average of 13,000 active-duty medical department members separate from the United States military each year at the end of their enlistments/contracts or through retirement, according to the congressman’s staff, which added that no formal program exists to actively recruit these veterans to remain in federal health care in departments like the VA.

The VA Inspector General reported in November 2019 that staff shortages are a root cause of many of the problems facing veterans’ health care, which could benefit from the DOD’s robust medical departments in the Army, Navy, and Air Force totaling 111,462 active duty and 67,951 reserve personnel in 2020. All or part of their medical education and training has been paid for by the federal government.