Two landmark veterans mental health bills, the Veterans COMPACT Act and the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, passed the House unanimously on Sept. 23, advancing one step closer to becoming law. APA worked with both the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees on each of these bills and is glad to see several APA-supported provisions included. APA will continue advocating for research-informed legislation, such as lethal means safety training and counseling for veterans, as well as improved recruitment and retention for psychologists at VA. The Veterans COMPACT Act, introduced by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., included several provisions supported by APA: language allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay for acute suicidal care for veterans no matter where they seek that care and bill language that would improve VA police training. APA provided testimony for the hearing record on Sept. 10 (PDF, 193KB). The testimony supports those provisions as well as specifically calls for passage of an education program for family members and caregivers of veterans with mental health conditions. The Veterans COMPACT Act must still pass the Senate before become law.
The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, introduced by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Chairman Jerry Moran, R-Kan., includes APA-supported language to improve staffing at VA, including a scholarship program for psychology students who agree to work at Vet Centers, a study on alternative work schedules, and a staffing plan for all mental health providers.
The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement passed the Senate on Aug. 5 and will now be sent to the president to become law.
For more information, please contact Sophie Friedl.