Opening Statement of Hon. John Barrow, a Representative in Congress from the State of Georgia
Thank you Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Filner for holding this hearing on mental health treatment.
It is our duty and obligation to ensure that when our troops come home we provide them the mental health services they not only need, but the services they have earned. Unfortunately, we have failed to provide adequate mental health treatment. Too often our veterans afflicted with mental illness go undiagnosed and untreated.
One group of veterans we have failed to provide for adequately are those in rural areas. Veterans living in rural areas face all the same challenges that veterans in urban areas face with the added stress of long travel to receive care. For example, if a veteran in Statesboro, GA needs routine mental health treatment, he would be forced to travel over an hour and a half to get to the closest VA health facility. That is too far to travel for routine mental health treatment. A veteran in Statesboro should be able to travel a short and convenient distance for routine mental health treatment.
I look forward to hearing ways we can more effectively provide mental health to our veterans, and I look forward to working with this committee to provide more effective mental health treatment. We need to be certain that VA is providing high quality mental health treatment, while ensuring that veterans can conveniently and quickly use VA’s health services.