WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) toured the Minneapolis VA Medical Center with U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough. At the medical center, Senator Klobuchar met with veterans and healthcare providers and learned about the innovative services offered at the Minneapolis VA. In her remarks after the tour, Senator Klobuchar discussed medical advances taking place at the VA and the need to support our nation’s veterans through both physical and mental health challenges.
Senator Klobuchar has been a leader in advocating for veterans’ health care and benefits. Earlier this month, she introduced legislation to require the VA to provide health care personnel with improved education and training to identify, treat, and assess the impact of illnesses related to exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances. She also introduced legislation to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims processing training.
Remarks as delivered can be found below:
“Thank you so much, Governor, thanks for your great work. And thank you to Senator Smith, for her leadership on mental health, which the Secretary, I know, is so focused on. And Congresswoman, thank you as well for all you do. And Mr. Secretary, I had the job of introducing you at your Committee hearing. Probably the easiest job I ever got in Washington – I was happy to take it on, because he had such broad support from both Democrats and Republicans, which I think is so important right now. We have a secretary in place as he takes on the challenges that we all think about.
“So Director Kelly just gave us an incredible tour and we saw the work that leads us to believe we are number one. And that's the work that is being done with spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries. What we saw with an automatic machine that allows people who have ALS and other neurological disorders to be able to sit with their family and look with their eyes and allow arms to pick up food, to feed them, without their caretakers doing it for them all the time. We saw a woman who was just literally weeks out of an injury who through robotic equipment was able to walk, and it was like a miracle tour back there! And so I thank everyone that works for the people, but not just the occupational therapists, who we’re so thankful to, but also the people who designed it, the minds behind some of this, that come up with weird ideas. And when I asked them what’s one of the best things they do every day, they said “shoot down bad ideas first.” And so they do this work, so I thank them. And then what the Secretary talked about was it's not just physical injuries that you fix here and that we need to fix across the country, it’s also brain injuries, mental health, and all these problems that people are encountering right now and having. We have Vietnam War vets that still have PTSD from what happened to them. We have people that just have come back in the last decade that are still struggling. We’ve seen it when I was in St. Cloud for this incredible memorial for the three National Guard members who died in that helicopter crash in that farm field, and the family had a beautiful memorial for them last weekend with the Guard. We talked about in the crowd – it’s the first event in the public, which I’ll never forget – many people have mental illness. So to me, this is the signature, signature injury coming home from the war, it’s the signature condition that we are dealing with right now, and I think that's a good segue to introduce my friend Senator Tina Smith, who’s been so vocal about this and such a leader.”
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