Leahy Protects Funding For Vermont-Based PTSD Research And Treatment Facility

. . . Senate Appropriations Committee Passes VA Appropriations Bill, Which Also Includes Provisions To Expand VA Mental Health And PTSD Programs

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill approved on Thursday by the committee includes several key Vermont initiatives to help veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Notably, the bill protects $40 million in funding for the PTSD Consultation Program, run out of the National Center for PTSD at White River Junction, Vt., and created by Leahy in fiscal year 2013.  This funding, targeted for a $20 million cut in the President’s budget, was preserved by a bipartisan group of Senate appropriators led by Leahy.  The National Center for PTSD and the PTSD Brain Bank in White River Junction were the first such organizations in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and were created with crucial support from Leahy.

Leahy said:  “Caring for our veterans requires more than platitudes.  It takes real investments to fund the doctors and researchers who help veterans every day.  This must be a high priority as we write these budget bills, and I’m committed to preserving the funding for the critical effort being led from Vermont.  This research will help find ways to better care for the full spectrum of wounds and health problems experienced by veterans today, including PTSD and other mental health illnesses.”

The committee also included report language in the bill intended to ensure that any veteran who seeks mental health treatment outside of the VA is able receive the best evidence-based care through the PTSD Consultation Program.  The committee also asks the VA to estimate the cost to expand mental health expertise in medium and large VA facilities, including at White River Junction.

The approval Thursday of the bill by the Senate Appropriations Committee is the crucial first step toward these funds being enacted when signed into law by the President.  The bill heads next to the Senate Floor for Senate approval.

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