December , 2018

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Frontlines to Lifelines Makes it Easier for Veterans with Medical Training to Care for Their Fellow Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), along with Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), introduced S. 297, the Frontlines to Lifelines Act, to allow highly trained service men and women who would never leave a battle buddy behind in combat to immediately transition into caring for veterans at VA hospitals. The bill expands a pilot program to hire combat medics, medical technicians and corpsman straight from active duty service to care for their fellow veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals around the country. The Intermediate Care Technicians (ICT) pilot program facilitates the employment of these veterans straight from active duty without additional training or certifications. Frontlines to Lifelines extends the pilot program for three more years and increases the number of ICT positions fivefold.

“Those who put their lives on the line for our freedom deserve the best care. One of the best things you can give a veteran is a job, and Frontlines to Lifelines allows veterans to care for their fellow veterans,” Senator Kirk said. “As Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs subcommittee, making sure our veterans have the best care is my number one priority. I will work to uncover corrupt behavior by hospital bureaucrats and protect whistleblowers while ensuring the current electronic medical record system works efficiently with the Department of Defense.”

Last week, Senator Kirk met with Lovell Federal Health Care Center’s new director Dr. Stephen Holt and other leadership officials and staff to learn more about the ICT program. Army veteran “Joe,” who enlisted right after the September 11th attacks, has been a program participant since 2012. After serving four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a medic, he said the ICT program was the easiest transition into civilian life. According to Joe, the program allows him to provide care for his fellow veterans on both medical and personal levels.

“Immediately a patient sees my veteran badge and knows they are in good hands,” Joe told Senator Kirk. “They often call me ‘Doc,’ a title on the battlefield that is not given but earned among fellow soldiers.”

Frontlines to Lifelines gives the VA the authority to quickly hire former Department of Defense (DoD) medical professionals by seamlessly transferring credentials between agencies. VA Secretary Robert McDonald identified the need for more than 26,000 new VA healthcare providers. This bill helps the VA meet its shortfall by increasing ICTs and speeding up the transfer of other healthcare providers into the VA system from the Department of Defense.

As the new Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Senator Kirk is committed to ensuring our veterans receive the care they deserve from our VA hospitals and care providers, and are presented with job opportunities when they have completed their service. The Subcommittee is responsible for funding the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as Department of Defense construction projects worldwide, including military family housing at facilities like Rock Island Arsenal, Naval Station Great Lakes and Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Frontlines to Lifelines is one of the first bills Senator Kirk has introduced this year.

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