REPORT: How The American Rescue Plan Invested In Montana Veterans

The COVID pandemic caused major disruptions to health care, making it extremely difficult to access care, particularly for veterans. According to Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Denis McDonough, as of February 2021, the pandemic led to 19.7 million canceled, delayed or moved appointments. One year into the pandemic, the backlog of compensation and pension claims nearly tripled to 212,000. And tragically, more than 10,300 veterans and 131 Veterans Affairs staff lost their lives as a direct result of the pandemic.

As the Biden Administration took office, veterans and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) were in serious need of assistance, especially in Montana, which is home to 86,270 civilian veterans

Nearly 1 in 10 Montanans is a veteran, making it one of the highest per capita veteran populations in the nation. It’s estimated that 47,000 Montana vets depend on the Veteran Affairs’ hospital system. So in March 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, delivering billions of dollars in investments for Montana veterans and the VA hospital system.

The American Rescue Plan rushed critical COVID supplies to hospitals and first responders, boosted vaccine distribution, funded safety improvements in schools, and spent billions supporting state and local governments and their economies. Billions of dollars in the American Rescue Plan targeted the VA hospital system, which struggled to adequately serve veterans during the pandemic. For many veterans, the American Rescue Plan’s assistance was a lifeline, and the bill continues to help get veterans the care they deserve.

Here’s a more detailed look at how the bill helped and is helping veterans in Montana:

ARP Instituted An 18-Month Suspension Of Copayments For The 47,000 Montana Veterans That Use VA Health Services

  • The 47,000 Montana veterans served by the VA benefitted from a provision in the American Rescue Plan that canceled copayments for medical care and pharmacy services from April 6, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, with direct refunds issued to veterans to help them make ends meet.
  • The provision was funded by a $1 billion investment in veterans’ debt forgiveness.

ARP Improved Veterans’ Housing

  • $1.5 million was invested to improve veteran housing in Columbia Falls and Glendive.
  • The funding for the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls included a $135,000 upgrade for monitoring residents, $200,000 for sewer system upgrades, and $590,000 for HVAC improvements to decrease transmission of airborne pathogens.
  • The Eastern Montana Veterans Home in Glendive received $546,000 to make upgrades to its facilities.

The American Rescue Plan Supported Montana Veterans And Their Families

  • Beyond investing directly in the VA, the American Rescue Plan supported Montana veterans and their families with once-in-a-generation rescue funds for local communities.
  • The Child Tax Credit supported 12,000 Montana families and 24,000 children
  • 12,000 veteran or active-duty Montana families and their 24,000 children benefited from the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit.
  • The tax cut allowed military families to keep more of their income, feed their children, buy school supplies, and pay for health care.

American Rescue Plan Invested $17 Billion Nationally to Ensure Veterans Receive The Care They Need