Thompson Times Newsletter: Thompson Military Mental Health Bill Picks Up Steam

May 5, 2014


As we move into the spring season, I hope these updates from Washington and across the 5th District find you well. Be sure to keep your calendars close for you will also find information on upcoming deadlines and outreach events.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Be sure to keep in touch online or by visiting Facebook or Twitter.


Constituent Meetings from the 5th and DC: 

Visit to Skills of Central PA: In February, I had the opportunity to visit Skills of Central PA, which provides a wide variety of services focused on supporting individuals with disabilities so they can live self-determined lives. I met with  Regional Vice President  Joe Weilacher at Skills of Central PA's primary facility in State College, along with so many talented individuals and staff.

Visit to the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences:  I recently visited the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, which prepares our uniformed services health professionals and officers to directly support the Military Health System. During the visit, I was able to meet with SGT Mike Lee, of Waterford, Erie County, who is just back from Afghanistan.  Thank you for your service, SGT Lee!

A Day with Corl Street Elementary: In March, I was able to join the students of Corl Street Elementary in State College, during their celebration of Read Across America, a nationwide reading program initiated by the National Education Association to promote early learning “with read-aloud, read-along, and reading marathon activities.”

Leadership Recognition:  

National Award for Work in Agriculture: In February, I was recognized by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) with the Golden Plow Award, which is the highest honor the AFBF presents to Members of Congress. I was nominated for the award by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, for my work to "advance the Farm Bill, commitment to reducing regulatory red tape and burdens on farmers, and leadership in addressing Environmental Protection Agency-related challenges that threaten the very foundation of agriculture."   
Picture: Thompson with American Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Julie Anna Potts and PA Farm Bureau President Carl Shaffer.

National Award for Advocacy in Career & Technical Education: In April, I was honored to receive the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education (CTE) Consortium’s Star of Education Award. The award is given to Members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership, vision, and dedication to CTE, and have made extraordinary contributions to the practice and expansion of CTE programs. My colleague and fellow Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional CTE Caucus, Jim Langevin (D-RI), was the other recipient of the award.  I look forward to continuing our shared advocacy on behalf of aspiring learners of all ages.

News Headlines:

The Hill Newspaper: Thompson Military Mental Health Bill Picks Up Steam:  “A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill calling for mental health screening for recruits before they can join the military. "While the military performs comprehensive physical and medical evaluations, no similar examination for mental health exists," said Rep. Glenn Thompson. "The Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act will institute a preliminary mental health assessment at the time recruits are first joining the military," he said. Nearly one in five Army soldiers enters the service with a psychiatric disorder, and nearly half of all soldiers who tried suicide first attempted it before enlisting, according to recent Army reports. "This small but consequential improvement to recruitment evaluations will help address a recognized knowledge gap within the military and ensure our soldiers are both physically and mentally fit to serve," Thompson said. Thompson introduced the legislation on March 27, but it picked up more support after Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34, went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood last Tuesday, killing three soldiers and wounding 16. Since then, Senators Portman and Rockefeller have introduced a companion bill in the Senate…” (The Hill, April 17, 2014)  

Warren Times Observer: Thompson Law Boosts U.S. Forest Products: “The farm bill, now law, contains provisions that originated in the Forest Products Fairness Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Thompson, representing a long-fought-for victory for Thompson..."If you go to a hardware store, let's say you go to the counter for flooring and you buy a box of bamboo flooring, which is not grown in this country. You will see that it will have a sticker on it saying that it is USDA 'bio-preferred'. Sitting next to it could be a box of hardwood cherry, from Warren County, and it's not eligible. I mean, it's the craziest thing…that will change. So that marketing will help expand new market opportunities for timber and forest products by allowing them now to qualify for the USDA's 'bio-preferred' program. So that creates more demand for our forest products and timber…” (Warren Observer, February 5, 2014)

Legislative Activity:

Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act Signed into Law: In December of last year, the House passed bipartisan legislation to shift $126 million — money previously used to finance national political conventions — to the National Institutes of Health, where it will now support research into childhood cancer and other pediatric diseases, including down syndrome, cancer, autism, and the countless other diseases that affect our children that don’t yet have a cure. In March of 2014, the Senate passed the legislation – again with bipartisan support. That bill, now law, was the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill and for the leadership displayed in the House to advance this important piece of legislation.

Thompson Cosponsored Bill to Extend Emergency Relief from Propane Crisis Becomes Law: On March 25, President Obama signed into law H.R. 4076, the Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation (HHEATT) Act, a bill I cosponsored to extend emergency relief to families and businesses during the propane and home heating fuels crisis facing so many of our communities.

House Passes “Hire More Heroes Act”: On March 12, I voted to support H.R. 3474, the Hire More Heroes Act, bipartisan legislation that will incentivize small businesses to hire veterans by adjusting requirements under the Affordable Care Act's Employer Mandate. 

Upcoming Events & Deadlines:  

Veteran Outreach: Our office announced two outreach events for veterans during the month of May, in Lock Haven and Erie. These informational seminars, which will include officials from federal departments and agencies, are open to all military, veterans, and their families. Click here and here to learn more.

Deadline for Beginning Farmers Grant Program: On April 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced application deadlines for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Applications are due June 12, 2014. Click here to learn more.

Agriculture Disaster Assistance Programs Now Open: Eligible farmers can now apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s disaster assistance programs, which were restored and retroactively reauthorized by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.  Click here to learn more.