Senate passes Veteran’s Health Act; a package of bills addressing healthcare and suicide prevention for veterans

"By identifying and eliminating barriers for veterans to access public lands, AVRO will ensure that veterans can heal on the landscapes they served to protect."

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A final passage of the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, a provision of the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention Access to Care and Treatment Act, was passed by the Senate on Tuesday. The package of bills addresses healthcare and suicide prevention for veterans and is being called a victory for both veterans and public lands.

The legislation was co-introduced by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act (AVRO) will foster opportunities for collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs and public lands agencies to provide outdoor recreation as therapy for veterans. Research into the effectiveness of outdoor recreation shows “benefits to mental and physical well-being, social function, and outlook on life for veterans recovering from service-related trauma,” according to a press release from Sierra Club.

“Today is a victory for all veterans dealing with service-related trauma, visible and invisible,” Rob Vessels, campaign manager for Sierra Club Military Outdoors, said. “We’ve long known that the outdoors can be a powerful place for physical and mental healing.”

The passage of AVRO, which was first approved by the House of Representatives on Sept. 23, will establish an “inter-agency task force to make recommendations on identifying barriers preventing veterans from accessing public lands, and fostering opportunities for collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs and public lands agencies,” according to a press release from Sierra Club.

According to a press release from Senator Cortez Masto, “the task force would seek to better utilize public lands for the rehabilitation and wellness of veterans” and pushing to utilize outdoor recreation for medical treatment.

“The passage of this bill is great news for Nevada’s veteran communities, who are increasingly turning to outdoor recreation as a way to prioritize their physical health and mental well-being,” Senator Cortez Masto said. “Spending time in Nevada’s magnificent outdoor landscapes can be therapeutic, and this bill will make it easier for veterans who have experienced trauma to get the resources they need to heal and benefit from pristine public spaces in Nevada and across America.”

The legislation, which is supported by numerous outdoor recreation and veterans advocacy groups, awaits President Trump’s signature.

“By identifying and eliminating barriers for veterans to access public lands, AVRO will ensure that veterans can heal on the landscapes they served to protect,” Vessels said.

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Ashley is an editor, social media content manager and writer at NationofChange. Before joining NoC, she was a features reporter at The Daily Breeze – a local newspaper in Southern California – writing a variety of stories on current topics including politics, the economy, human rights, the environment and the arts. Ashley is a transplant from the East Coast calling Los Angeles home.

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