Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Durbin: Put aside partisan differences pass the Mental Health ACCESS Act and Improve VA Mental Health Care
Senator also honors former Joliet resident and WWI veteran, Joseph Ambrose
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today said that Congress can and should do more to honor those who answer the call of duty and risk everything to defend America. Specifically, Durbin called on members of the Senate to put aside partisan differences during the lame duck session to pass the Mental Health ACCESS Act – a bill that would improve the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)'s suicide prevention, counseling, and mental health staffing while expanding eligibility for some services to family members – and the Veterans Job Corps Act – a bipartisan plan that would put thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to work.
"For too long and on too many important issues, we in this Senate have tied our own hands with excessive rancor and partisanship," said Durbin. "In this lame duck session, I hope we will extend a hand of cooperation across the aisle and find a fair and responsible way to meet the enormous fiscal challenges we face while we also invest in our future and honor our commitments, including those we owe our veterans."
In his speech on the Senate floor, Durbin reported that over 5,150 families nationwide, including more than 130 in Illinois, are part of the VA's Family Caregiver Program which provides technical, financial and practical support to family caregivers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seriously injured in the line of duty. The Family Caregiver Program was created by a Durbin-authored provision in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009.
Durbin also spoke about a Joliet, Illinois resident and World War I veteran whose photo is attached. In the photo, taken 30 years ago at the dedication of the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, then 86 year-old Joseph Ambrose is wearing the same uniform he wore as a 19-year-old U.S. Army private in France in World War I. In his arms is the flag that covered the coffin of his son, who died in the Korean War. Joseph Ambrose wore his old Army "doughboy" uniform and carried his son's flag often to Veterans Day parades and VFW conventions.
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