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Amata highlights veterans health subcommittee hearing

Congresswoman Aumua Amata questioning the panel about veterans’ health access in American Samoa. See press release for details.  [photo: courtesy]
Source: Media release, office of Congresswoman Aumua Amata

Congresswoman Aumua Amata highlighted the healthcare needs of American Samoan veterans in a Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee hearing to examine up to ten health-related bills that are under early consideration in the Committee, including draft legislation to improve the VA’s Health Professional Educational Assistance Program.

“The VA’s Health Professional Educational Assistance Program is aimed at correcting the VA’s shortfall in available healthcare professionals – a problem that is even more apparent in American Samoa,” said Amata. “In American Samoa, it is difficult to find the needed physical therapists and other specialists for the VA Clinic, and there is no VA hospital. We must thoroughly examine this challenge and take steps to better deliver services on site in American Samoa and look for ways to reduce costs for veterans who currently travel to Hawaii for many procedures.”

Specifically, the draft legislation for the Health Professional Educational Assistance Program would seek to increase scholarships for students in pursuing studies to be a doctor or dentist, along with requiring VA Clinic service; medical scholarships for veterans; and loan repayment for new medical graduates in residency that are in shortage fields and provide clinical service at a VA facility.

The hearing included input from numerous members of Congress and veterans’ organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Vietnam Veterans of America, Blinded Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Justice for Vets, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“I’m pleased that members of Congress of both parties take the needs of our veterans seriously and are participating in the effort to improve access to services for veterans,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “I will continue to ensure that the needs of American Samoa are known in Washington, D.C., and keep working through legislative means to increase healthcare choices for American Samoa’s veterans.”