LAMB INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN BILL TO ENABLE VETERANS TO ADVANCE COVID-19 VACCINATION EFFORTS
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) was joined by Representative Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-At Large), to introduce the bipartisan Supporting Education Recognition for Veterans during Emergencies (SERVE) Act. The legislation will ensure that veterans’ service-connected medical qualifications and expertise are utilized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and civilian health care facilities to meet the challenges of the coronavirus public health emergency. Lamb is reintroducing the bill in the 117th Congress to advance COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
“The race to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 has been a stark reminder of how unprepared we were for this global pandemic. There is no better group than our veterans to help us fight to the finish,” said Lamb. “Veterans have received the best training available and are eager to contribute when they return to civilian life. This bill removes the obstacles to help veterans better serve our communities, especially as we ramp up the vaccination efforts nationwide to finally defeat COVID-19.”
“The SERVE Act seeks to capitalize on the skills and knowledge acquired by our veterans and use it to assist our country in times of national emergencies. As it has become evident with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to maximize every opportunity and asset at our disposal to combat this life-threatening virus. Like my constituents, I am hopeful for the future and longing for a return to normalcy. Still, pandemics and similar emergencies are always a looming threat and we must always be prepared. I am confident this bill places us in a better position to respond to emergencies moving forward. I am proud to be an original cosponsor, alongside my colleague Representative Conor Lamb, and look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to get it across the finish line,” said González-Colón.
The SERVE Act is supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Union Veterans Council (UVC) AFL-CIO and Team Rubicon. These veterans service organizations (VSOs) cite veterans’ willingness to serve their communities again and have called upon Congress to provide improvements to the existing credentialing system to better recognize the medical skills of veterans. To answer this call, the SERVE Act:
- Directs the VA to identify veterans with former military medical occupation specialties and provide documentation of medical training and experience through a web portal, allowing veterans to provide contact information on a voluntary basis;
- Allows the VA to share volunteered information from veterans with medical backgrounds with state veterans’ homes, state Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor, VSOs, and state-credentialing bodies, to facilitate the credentialing process at the state-level for qualified veterans;
- Permanently authorizes the Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) program, which is designed to hire former military corpsmen and medics into positions at VA Medical Centers; and
- Requires a study on whether the existing ICT program can be replicated for other military medical specialties to expand pathways for transitioning service members and veterans.
“I applaud the bipartisan efforts of Reps. Lamb and González-Colón in introducing this important legislation,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO, IAVA. “The SERVE Act introduction is timely given the need for health professionals during this pandemic. There are hundreds of thousands of veterans with critical medical knowledge and experience. They are an untapped resource and should not be kept on the sidelines.”
“Medical professionals have been on the frontlines of the pandemic for over 14 months now and they need support. We have the ability to unlock a whole new workforce that is eager to serve. There are hundreds of thousands of military veterans with extensive training and experience in emergency medicine who have no way to leverage their skills in a time of crisis,” said Jake Wood, CEO, Team Rubicon. “The SERVE Act creates a pathway to allow these men and women to continue their service in times of need and get into the fight against COVID-19.”
“As veterans, we are wired to serve and are always ready to step up to the plate when our country needs us. This bill not only helps to provide trained individuals to help administer and support the COVID-19 vaccination mission, but it will also provide a sense of service and purpose to so many of our nation heroes,” said Will Attig, Executive Director, Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO.
Click here to learn more about the SERVE Act.