Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross’ amendment to support veterans in their transition to civilian life passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act. The amendment, co-led by Representatives Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-AL), and Gwen Moore (WI-04), requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide newly transitioned veterans with information regarding the medical services they can access, including the mental health care and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) support to which they are personally entitled.

On top of the added burdens that come with the transition to civilian life, including disproportionate rates of mental health crises, studies show that many new veterans are not aware of the full range of benefits they can access. The Ross amendment equips the 250,000 veterans that transition each year with information about the important and potentially lifesaving resources available to them.

“We owe it to all of our veterans, including those in the reserves and National Guard, to provide access to gold-standard medical benefits. We also owe it to these exceptional individuals to make access to their much-deserved benefits simple and easy,” said Congresswoman Ross. “That is why I am pleased that the House passed the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act and has accepted my amendment, which takes proactive steps to ensure newly transitioned veterans know about their VA medical benefits. These resources, including mental health support, exist for the sole purpose of helping former members of the Armed Services. It is critical that we do everything we can to increase awareness and enable veterans to take advantage of these lifechanging benefits.”

"The mental health of our veterans cannot and must not be ignored," said Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16). "It is our responsibility to ensure that veterans transitioning to civilian life are provided with the resources and information they need to access healthcare and mental health services. Regardless of party affiliation, we should all be able to agree that our veterans make unimaginable sacrifices and often struggle with adjusting back to civilian life because of a lack of government support. This bipartisan amendment helps them heal by connecting them to federal suicide prevention resources and prioritizes the de-stigmatization of getting mental health care. This is just one step in our work to respect and honor those who have served."

“Service members face numerous obstacles when transitioning out of service and this amendment makes accessing earned benefits like community-based healthcare and mental health services easier,” said Gonzalez-Colon. “I am proud to work across the aisle to improve the lives of veterans in Puerto Rico and across the entire United States.”

The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act expands eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits to include members of the reserves and National Guard. Currently, these Americans do not receive the essential educational benefits that their counterparts in active duty can access.

In July, Congresswoman Ross co-introduced bipartisan legislation, the Military Sexual Trauma Retirement Equity Act (MSTREA Act), to allow military retirees with disabilities caused by to receive their full retirement and disability compensation. The VA reports that over 84,000 veterans have disabilities as a result of MST.

The Congresswoman spoke on the House floor in support of her amendment and the overarching legislation.