Washington Hearing Society
Moving Forward, Supporting Members

Senate News on Fit to Serve

Posted on February 5th, 2020

Senate Action on Fit to Serve

Sen. Moran at Hearing

Chairman Moran presents S. 785 during the Jan. 29 committee mark-up.

We have important and exciting news out of Washington, DC, on IHS’ Fit to Serve initiative, aimed at improving veterans’ access to hearing healthcare through the use of hearing aid specialists.

Yesterday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) passed a bill, S. 785, the “Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019,” that included language to continue forward movement on Fit to Serve.

IHS has been working diligently with our congressional champions to press the Department of Veterans Affairs to follow through on its 2016 congressional directive () to add hearing aid specialists to the VA staff team. To date, the VA has been unwilling to move forward on hiring hearing aid specialists.

S. 785 would require VA to do the following:

  • Within 180 days of the bill’s enactment, establish qualifications for hearing aid specialists to work for the VA,
  • By September 30, 2022, appoint at least one licensed hearing aid specialist at all VA medical centers, and
  • Submit an annual report to Congress assessing the VA’s progress in hiring hearing aid specialists, as well as any potential conflicts or obstacles affecting hiring.

The bill will now go to the full Senate for a vote. If passed, it will then be transferred to the House for consideration.

This bipartisan bill was introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT), who serve as Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair and Ranking Member, respectively. Both have championed hearing aid specialist use by the VA over the past several years and led the passage of PL 114-256 in the Senate. Forty-three (43) additional Senators have co-sponsored S. 785.

We thank those of you who have contacted your members of Congress and the VA, and have  to support our work. With your help, we are getting closer to our goal of enabling hearing aid specialists to assist veterans as VA providers both in the community and at VA facilities.

We encourage you to visit the  for updates on the bill. With questions, contact us at .

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