U.S. Senator Tom Udall has announced he joined U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) in introducing a bill to streamline the hiring process for medically trained service men and women to transition immediately from active duty service to caring for veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. The Frontlines to Lifelines Act expands the Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) pilot program, which facilitates the immediate employment of Department of Defense health personnel by seamlessly transferring their credentials and license information to the VA. Funding for the program expires in February. Udall’s bill would extend the pilot program for an additional three years, and expand the number of ICT positions fivefold. VA facilities where veterans have experienced the longest wait times for care would receive priority status for funding to hire veterans who have recently completed their service for ICT positions.
“Our veterans risk their lives to defend our freedom, and they deserve the absolute best care we can provide when they return home. The Frontlines to Lifelines Act helps smooth the transition to civilian life for highly qualified medically trained veterans with experience caring for their fellow service members by employing them in jobs caring for their fellow veterans,” Udall said. “Not only does this program create jobs for veterans, but it helps address the health care provider deficiency at VA facilities in New Mexico and nationwide. As a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, I am proud to stand up for programs like the Intermediate Care Technician program that provide our veterans with the support they have earned.”
In addition to streamlining the hiring process for combat medics, medical technicians and corpsman, the bill allows the VA to authorize advanced practice registered nurses to practice independently without supervision under a set of privileges approved by the VA secretary. In September, VA Secretary Robert McDonald identified the need for tens of thousands of new health care providers and personnel within the VA health care system to meet patient demand. The Frontlines to Lifelines Act would help to address this need while creating more immediately available jobs for veterans upon the completion of their service.