(LEX 18) — Veteran's Club founder Jeremy Harrell is applauding the four bills President Joe Biden signed into law Tuesday.
"It's a big win for the veteran community," Harrell said. "Many of these are long overdue."
One of the bills is Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021. The law requires training and support on how to care specifically for veteran mothers at civilian hospitals or non-VA maternity care providers.
Veteran Laura Gonzalez said she hopes the law will prevent any other female veterans from having the same experience she had when her son was born.
She said, when she gave birth at a civilian hospital and her son, Eli, was taken away for measurements and shots, the typical routine, she was terrified.
She said Eli was gone for several hours, and that was something she didn't expect.
"My time in the service brought out kind of an OCD I guess where if I can control a situation that makes me more comfortable, and when I think I should be able to control a situation and cannot, that gives me anxiety," Gonzalez said.
She said she just needed more communication from staff and for someone to understand where her anxiety was coming from.
"I think the training will help the nurses, the doctors, the staff to see that it's not just a new mother being upset by something, but maybe there's an underlying mental health issue that needs to be talked about, handled, and help them work through it," she said.
The second bill, S.1031, will launch a study to determine whether there are racial and ethnic disparities around VA benefits and disability ratings.
Harrell believes disparities will be found.
"In my experience, there has been times where I didn't understand why one veteran wouldn't be considered disabled at a certain level as another veteran of a different race and I think this will really hold some accountability," he said.
The third bill, the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, would create a program to recruit military health care workers to the VA.
"In the veteran community we serve over 6,000 and many of these veterans feel like they're not understood or that some folks of the VA aren't sensitive to their needs, and I think this will address some of that.," Harrell said. "They already know military culture and just, in general, we lack military culture in the community when it comes to health care providers outside the network."
The final bill, Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act of 2021, mandates that students in the Survivors' and Dependents' Education Assistance program receive in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities that receive G.I. Bill benefits.
Both Gonzalez and Harrell said these laws are all a great start.
"There's a lot more that probably needs to happen in the future but this is something that has been a long time coming I think," Gonzalez said.