Helping Struggling Veterans Get Back on Track
Many veterans return from deployment susceptible to substance abuse as a result of their combat experience. This is a struggle that hits home for Leah’s family. Her brother Nick joined the Marine Corps on September 12, 2001 and completed three deployments; including the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2012, he completed treatment through the veterans’ court program in Hennepin County - a process he credits with helping him get back on track after struggling to adjust to life back in the U.S.
Veterans' treatment courts are defined as a “problem solving court,” and are reserved for veterans that have addiction and mental health issues and have been convicted of domestic abuse or DUIs. The goal of these courts is to work with veterans who are sentenced to probation and help them through treatment programs and help them navigate VA programs and benefits. Currently, they only exist in Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Roseau and Anoka counties, posing a hardship for veterans in northern parts of the 8th district. An amendment to the House spending bill was passed recently increasing funding for this program to $10 million. In Congress, Leah will fight to secure additional funding for the program to ensure the 51,000 veterans in our 8th District have access to this critical program.
Failing Those Who Risked It All
A study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 20 veterans take their own lives each day. This number has risen to pandemic proportions, particularly for our women veterans who are twice as likely to commit suicide as their civilian counterparts. To help our veterans in their time of need, Leah will fight to strengthen the provisions of the Clay Hunt SAV Act and fast track other modernization initiatives. Leah’s plan will also increase the research budget of the VA to ensure that the latest therapies are available to veterans.
Leah will push for continued modernization of the VA under the MyVA initiative by increasing the budget for technology; specifically authorizing the VA to develop mobile phone apps that will allow veterans easier access to healthcare information, professionals, and care. By creating a mental healthcare app, veterans will be able to call upon healthcare professionals more easily and conveniently. Leah believes the federal government should never cease striving to improve the lives of those who risked everything for our country; she will be a vocal supporter of our veterans in Congress.