|Posted:||May 3, 2019 02:58 PM|
|From:||Representative Michael H. Schlossberg|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Resolution: Connecting veterans with mental health services|
|The men and women who served our nation in uniform put their lives on the line for us. They took an oath to protect our nation from harm and to follow the orders of the commanding officers. We welcome them home from combat or competition of service, thanking them publicly for their service. Often with tragic consequences, too many do not get the physical or mental health services they have earned through their sacrifice and need.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expanded mental health care services to more than 500,000 veterans nationwide with other-than-honorable administrative discharges. This class of veterans—which does not include those with bad conduct and dishonorable discharges—is a particularly vulnerable population that is excluded from most VA benefits. However, with this policy change, they now have access to 90 days of emergency mental health care, and the VA will determine if they are eligible for ongoing care because of mental health conditions that developed as a result of their service.
About 11-20% of veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan experience posttraumatic stress injuries, commonly called PTSI or PTSD, and many others struggle with depression or related mental health conditions. This policy change was a meaningful step toward ensuring that all veterans who have made sacrifices for our nation receive the care and support they deserve.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness about this new policy, only a few hundred veterans have taken advantage of this program. Veterans who do not have access to VA services are six times more likely to be incarcerated and 30% more likely to die by suicide than veterans with access to VA programs and care.
Please join me in urging the President and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to do more to support and engage with these veterans and address their mental health needs.
Introduced as HR336