In January Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill introduced a new bill that will help veterans make the transition from military life to life in the civilian world easier. The Frontlines to Lifelines Act of 2015 extends a pilot program which placed 45 intermediate care technicians (ICT) as medical assistants at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill will allow for an additional 250 corpsmen and combat medics to be hired as ICTs.
The bill will address three issues within the military.
- Reduce wait times. An audit recently completed by the Veterans Health Administration showed appointment wait times to be a month or more.
- Employ veterans.
- Allow veterans to care for veterans.
To combat frustrating wait times and backlog, the bill requests that the pilot program continue for three more years and hire more veterans. The bill also calls for the allowance of nurse practitioners to practice unsupervised except in mental health situations. It also gives ICTs additional responsibilities that can be done without physician supervision. This allows the physician more time for additional appointments.
Employing veterans in these needed medical positions allow many to continue utilizing skills acquired while in the service. Many times veterans are forced to find completely new careers after they retire to the civilian world. Under this bill, corpsmen and combat medics will be allowed to transfer Department of Defense (DOD) credentials to the VA and obtain employment as a medical assistant.
Additionally, military personnel are trained to never leave a fellow member behind. Veterans also understand the special needs of other veterans. Hiring veterans to service other veterans allows for optimal care and ensures no one is left behind.
The Frontlines to Lifelines Act of 2015 tacks on only three years to the pilot program but hopes are that this will become a permanent option for veterans and military health care providers. Medical assistants are a key part of this bill that will allow additional care while employing veterans that have the required skills.