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Senator Supports Better Mental Health Services for Vets

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--Each year, the week of February 14th is national salute to veteran patients week.

Today an Iowa senator visited Iowa City to talk about ways to improve services for those who have served the country.

Senator Tom Harkin stopped by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City to discuss the importance of mental health support for vets.

He's also brainstorming ways to adjust a new bill aimed at helping veterans.

After years of service outside the U.S or even in the line of fire, getting back to a normal routine at home can be difficult for some veterans.

"There needs to be more attention paid to correctly diagnosing, treating and follow up with veterans with mental health problems, Senator Tom Harkin said.

That's why Senator Tom Harkin came to Iowa City.

To find ways to enhance a Veterans Affairs Bill he says will help turn things around.

"It addresses a lot of the issues that the veterans are concerned with in terms of health care in terms of outreach in terms of support services for veterans, he said

Senator Harkin says this VA hospital is a great example of how veterans hospitals should operate.

"I think what stands out here is the commitment they have to really serving all the veterans, the commitment they have for outreach and upgrading the facilities here.

One of those upgrades is a new parking ramp.

"This ramp promises to take us from our current 554 parking spaces to a total of 889 once it's all completed, said Hospital director of operations, Tim McMurray.

Tim McMurray says veterans and employees have needed more parking for years, and the ramp project which is estimated at less than ten million dollars will make things better

"Once the parking ramp is all completed we are very excited about the positive impact it's going to have not only on our veterans but on our employees as well, he said.

A positive impact, providing insight for Senator Harkin as he prepares his bill.

The parking ramp will be completed in about a year.

As for new veterans affairs bill, Senator Harkin says it will be introduced to the senate within the next three or four weeks.
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