A bill to require the state to look into bringing more medical facilities closer to state veteran home campuses was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom during the weekend.
Senate Bill 1195, authored by Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) will require the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to, during home reviews, assess the potential to place satellite medical clinics on state veteran home campuses and within a 30-minute drive of a state veteran home campus, to serve both residents of the veteran homes and nonresident veterans in the communities where state veteran homes are located. The need for such a clinic by the veterans living in the homes, as well as non veterans residents who would potentially use it, would also be assessed. Under SB 1195, CalVet would also meet with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs on the possibility of placing satellite clinics.
Senator Grove wrote the bill because of residents of veteran homes being served medically by the DVA, whose facilities in some areas of the state be between 2-3 hours away. The distance often has many vets be discouraged to go or are more willing to delay treatment that could be lifesaving. In particular, Grove noted that CalVet’s “Veterans Homes of California Master Plan 2020” report that showed that distribution of levels of care was not consistent with community need, meaning that while care is easy for some to access, for others it is grossly inadequate.
“There are no limits to the gratitude we share in thanking our service members for their commitment to our country in the armed forces,” said Senator Grove in a statement earlier this year. “This critical legislation will help ensure there are fewer barriers for a veteran to access critical health and mental health services.”
SB 1195 was popular since being introduced earlier this year, quickly moving through the Senate and Assembly with all unanimous votes, culminating with being passed 76-0 in the Assembly on August 11th. While some did abstain, mostly due to not being able to vote in person, no lawmaker spoke out against it.
“How could they?,” questioned Ron Blough, a lawyer who specializes in veteran disability, to the Globe on Monday. “The bill is all about seeing if satellite Vet hospitals can be placed closer. Not only is it needed and was proved to be needed, but what sort of person would honestly come out and say ‘I don’t support better health options for veterans.’? California is on the right track with this one, because not only does it mean better healthcare for vets, but it also means that vet homes that are looking at the chopping block, like Barstow, can now have a better chance at being saved with a new medical building nearby. Literally everybody wins.”
Over the weekend, Governor Newsom signed the bill into law, with many supporters celebrating as a result.
“Since the founding of our nation, we have relied on the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom,” added Senator Grove in a statement on Friday. “When our veterans return home, we want to make sure that critical treatments and mental health services are accessible.”
SB 1195 is to come into effect on January 1, 2023.