Fitzpatrick, Gonzalez offer bill to increase number of Vet Centers

U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would expand the number of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vet Centers, which provide myriad social and psychological services to U.S. military veterans and their families.

“Vet Centers are an important resource to help our veterans address challenges they face after leaving the military by providing services such as individual and group counseling,” Rep. Gonzalez said. “Currently, Ohio has nearly twice the national average of veterans per Vet Center.” 

“Our veterans put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick, “and the very least we can do is provide them with the care they’ve earned.”

The congressmen are original cosponsors of the Veterans Census-Enabled National Treatment Equitable Resource Supplement (CENTERS) for Mental Health Act of 2021, H.R. 5543, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ). If enacted, the bill would direct the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a covered community-based out-patient clinic in each state, according to the text of the bill.  

“The transition from military to civilian life is not always a smooth one for our servicemen and women,” said Rep. Gonzalez. “I am pleased to introduce this legislation with Rep. Sherrill which expands Vet Center access and resources to our veterans and their families.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick said the legislation would expand VA Vet Centers in communities that need it most “… and ensure that our hero veterans have access to adequate and affordable health care, including critical mental health services, as they transition to civilian life.” 

The American Legion supports H.R. 5543, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.