Reps. Banks, Golden Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Pilot Mental Health Telemedicine For Rural Veterans

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) helped introduce a bipartisan bill today with Democrat Rep. Jared Golden (ME-02) that would improve mental health care for their fellow American veterans.

The bill, theVeterans Access to Online Treatment Act, would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create programs at three VA facilities across the country to use computerized cognitive behavioral therapy to treat veterans suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, military sexual trauma, and/or substance use disorder.

Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03)

“We’re pretty good at taking care of the physical wounds of war, but the unseen psychological wounds are far more difficult to treat,” said Rep. Banks. “I am glad to sponsor this bill with Rep. Golden that would pioneer innovative treatments for veterans suffering from mental health illnesses.”

“For veterans who live in rural areas far from a VA facility — and there are thousands in Maine — distance is a huge barrier to receiving care,” said Rep. Golden. “That distance can be dangerous if it keeps vets from seeking care for mental health issues. Telehealth alternatives are a promising way to address this problem for rural vets, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. My bill with Congressman Banks would establish a pilot program to expand remote mental health care for rural veterans, with the goal of creating nation-wide program using what we learn. That would mean better care for more veterans, and more veterans who can stick close to home — and their families — to get the help they need.”

Online options for treatment and therapy would be particularly valuable in rural areas of Indiana, where face-to-face access to mental health services is often difficult to come by.

You can read the full bill here.