Washington, D.C. – Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved language authored by Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) as part of this year’s Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill. The language included Rep. McNerney’s recommendations on disability claims processing, an innovative dog training program, and improvements to mental health care rules.
Under Congressman McNerney’s recommendations, the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) must consider hiring additional staff to address the growing backlog in appeals claims. The BVA must also report back to Congress each year on the steps it is taking to reduce the backlog. Rep. McNerney’s language instructs the VA to make it easier to partner shelter dogs with veterans to provide physical and mental health rehabilitation services, and expand the pool of mental health professionals that can serve veterans.
“I’m pleased the House approved my recommendations,” Rep. McNerney said. “Our veterans are still waiting far too long for decisions on their claims, despite some good efforts by the VA to reduce the backlog. I’ve seen firsthand the benefit veterans get from partnering with shelter dogs. And additional mental health professionals will increase access to care for those who need it.”
Rep. McNerney gathered the support of many of his House colleagues and wrote a letter to House Appropriators asking for these inclusions in the legislation.