Congressman Tim Ryan Attends White House Signing of the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act
Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, attended a bill signing ceremony for the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act at the White House today. This legislation helps serve veterans in rural areas who are experiencing mental illness.
“I was proud to partner with Congresswoman Axne (D-IA) on this legislation, and I can think of no better way to honor the memory of Iowa veteran Brandon Ketchum, who lost his own battle with PTSD after not getting the care he needed when he returned home. We cannot keep letting this happen. This bill will ensure that our rural veterans, those that were willing to sacrifice all, are taken care of and I know at my core that this legislation will have positive impacts on our former servicemembers across the state of Ohio," said Congressman Tim Ryan.
The Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act instructs the VA to establish three new Rural Access Network for Growth Enhancement (RANGE) programs to serve rural veterans. These programs are designed to support veterans who often are at high risk for housing insecurity and extensive inpatient hospitalization by integrating community, family, and financial resources in support of independent living.
RANGE teams coordinate each veteran’s individual psychiatric and functional services, including individual and family therapy, prescriptions, care-coordination with other medical providers, crisis intervention, recovery program participation, skills training, benefits assistance, and rehabilitation counseling. Veterans may be referred to RANGE by VA inpatient and outpatient providers, as well as by community agencies.
The legislation also requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study and report on whether the VA has sufficient resources to serve rural veterans who need mental health care that is more intensive than traditional outpatient therapy.
This is the second piece of Veterans legislation supported by Congressman Ryan to become law during this Congress. The other, the SAVE Lives Act, authorized the VA to furnish COVID-19 vaccine to all veterans, their caregivers, as well as their spouses and increased the population eligible for the vaccine by over 30 million beneficiaries.
Sergeant Brandon Ketchum (above) served in the Marine Corps, completing tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In his first tour alone, he cleared 92 roadside bombs in 7 months – service that earned him a Combat Action Ribbon.