Slotkin Pitches New Bills to Expand Resources for Military Veterans and Families

US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) speaks to veterans at a Memorial Day parade. (Elissa Slotkin via Facebook)

By Kyle Kaminski

June 8, 2023

Legislation introduced last month by US Rep. Elissa Slotkin would expand mental health services for veterans and take action to address the impact of toxic PFAS chemicals. 

MICHIGAN—How did US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) celebrate Memorial Day this year?

By keeping her colleagues in Washington D.C., focused on veterans—all month long.

“As a former CIA officer and Pentagon official, I worked alongside the military my entire career, and I know that when we send our men and women in uniform off to serve, we make a solemn commitment to take care of them when they return home,” Slotkin said in a statement this week. 

“That has—and always will be—one of my top priorities in Congress.”

READ MORE: Five Key Things to Know About US Rep. Elissa Slotkin

 

Benefits for Veterans

 

Slotkin kicked off the month with a town hall event for veterans that focused on how new benefits are available under the PACT Act, federal legislation signed into law last year that helps veterans who are seeking care for respiratory problems likely caused by exposure to burn pits. 

A burn pit at a US base. (Image via Shutterstock)

Burn pits—which were heavily used in war zones to dispose of household and human waste and toxic substances like paint and metals—have been linked to 23 different respiratory illnesses and cancers, with tens of thousands of veterans reportedly exposed since the 2000s.

READ MORE: Veterans Exposed to Toxic Burn Pits Get the Help They Need

The legislation ultimately expanded healthcare coverage for more than 3.5 million veterans nationwide, and to date, more than 3 million vets have already signed up to receive help, Slotkin said this week.

 

More Work Underway

 

In late May, Slotkin also introduced the COMFORT Act, which would expand counseling and mental health services for military families by allowing military counselors to work outside of the state where they’re licensed, so they can connect with more families who need the help.

“With frequent moves to long deployments, it isn’t easy being a service family,” she said in a statement. “This would cut red tape to make it easier for families to get the support they need.”

Slotkin also introduced another series of bills that would require the US Department of Defense to take steps to clean up PFAS pollutants on military bases and in surrounding communities, as well as offer more resources for veterans who have been exposed to the toxic PFAS chemicals.

The five bills would also reportedly adopt new screening procedures to test service members for PFAS exposure and ban the Department of Defense from using products that contain PFAS.

“When it comes to addressing PFAS exposure and contamination, the federal government has kicked the can down the road for way too long, and it’s left our service members and communities across Michigan shouldering the burden,” Slotkin said in a statement. 

Slotkin won a third term in the US House last November and represents the state’s 7th Congressional District, which covers Clinton, Ingham, Livingston and Shiawassee counties, as well as portions of Eaton, Genesee, and Oakland counties.

She could soon be moving onto higher office, however. 

In January, after serving more than 20 years in the US Senate, Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced that she would retire and “pass the torch” to a “new generation” of leaders in 2024. 

A few weeks later, Slotkin announced plans to run for Stabenow’s soon-to-be vacant seat, in what is likely to be one of the most expensive and competitive senate races in the country

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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