APA staff meet with members of key congressional committees on funding for veterans’ research

APA has also coordinated a lobby day in late February for the executive committee of the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders.

In the 113th Congress, 24 senators and 88 representatives have a history of service in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and/or Reserves. A number of these veterans will bring their experience and expertise to new assignments on committees with jurisdiction over armed services and veterans' issues. Many of the members (including those in leadership positions) of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs (HVAC and SVAC) are new either to the committee or to Congress itself this year, as are their staff. In the past several weeks, Heather Kelly of APA's Science Government Relations Office and colleagues from a coalition focusing on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research program have begun meeting systematically with staff and members of Congress on HVAC and SVAC. What is clear thus far is that most members of the committees list veterans' mental health (typically including PTSD, traumatic brain injury and suicide) as a priority for their legislative work in the new congressional session. At the end of this month, Diane Elmore of APA's Public Interest Government Relations Office and Heather Kelly have coordinated a lobby day for the executive committee of the Association of VA Psychologist Leaders, during which they will meet Capitol Hill staff to further discuss these topics and others, such as mental health care staffing and access to treatment within the VA system.

Heather and Diane will also begin meeting with key staff and members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (HASC and SASC) in the coming weeks to discuss their legislative priorities in the new Congress and outline possible areas of collaboration. More in-depth discussions about fiscal year 2014 appropriations for defense and VA research portfolios and other psychology-relevant programs will depend on the outcomes of budget negotiations and decisions about funding mechanisms for the remainder fiscal year 2013. Visit our joint website to keep up to date on our APA military/veterans advocacy and other activities.

For more information on this issue contact Heather O'Beirne Kelly.