New bills to build Missoula veteran’s clinic, address backlogs

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Bills that will impact veterans are making their way to the President’s desk. The U.S Senate unanimously passed two of Montana Senator Jon Tester’s bills.

The first will provide funds to build a new clinic in Missoula. NBC Montana spoke with the senator Tuesday night. Tester said their current Veterans Affairs clinic is too small and no longer meets the needs of veterans. Tester says the new clinic will benefit all of Montana’s veterans.

Tester said he does not have a timeline for when the new clinic will open its doors. He said he will put pressure on the VA to find a location once the bill is signed.

The senator’s second bill, Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, speeds up and simplifies the process veterans undergo when appealing their disability rating. That rating determines what kind of services and benefits veterans are eligible for. Tester says the backlog of pending appeals has grown to 470,000 nationwide. He says his bill will give the VA flexibility and resources to process claims faster.

On Tuesday night, he said he was confident the president will sign these bills.

“We put these folks in harm’s way. They go out, they never ask questions, and they put their lives on the line. We make promises to them. It’s our job to fulfill those promises. One of those promises is health care. These bills fulfill the promises we make to our veterans,” Tester said.

A staff member with the senator says the bills are expected to be signed sometime in September.

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