Suicide prevention, transition improvements among 9 veterans bills approved by House

Abbie Bennett
May 21, 2019 - 1:26 pm

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The House on Tuesday passed nine pieces of legislation that intend to improve veteran health and quality of life, including expanding mental healthcare to Guard, Reserve and Coast Guard members, supporting overworked VA suicide prevention staff and requiring the VA to report to Congress about veteran suicides on VA campuses.

The nine bills now headed to the Senate are:

The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-living Adjustment Act would increase the amount of money veterans with service-connected disabilities and survivors of certain disabled veterans receive.

The FIGHT Veteran Suicide Act requires the VA notify Congress of deaths by suicide or attempted suicides at VA medical facilities within seven days, including medical information about those veterans and their most recent interactions with VA staff. Seven veterans have suicide by died on VA campuses so far this year.

The Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act would expand eligibility for VA mental health services to include members or veterans of the Guard, Coast Guard and Reserve. The bill also requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit a plan to Congress to provide VA services to veterans who do not live near a VA medical center.

The Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William Bill Mulder Transition Improvement Act aims to streamline the process and improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to help veterans, in honor of one who took his own life just months after retiring.

The Whole Veteran Act requires the VA to report to Congress with information on the VA’s Whole Health Program, part of the agency’s suicide prevention effort, including information on how accessible and available complementary medical services such as massage, acupuncture, yoga and more are to veterans who don’t live near a VA facility.  

The Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act requires the U.S. comptroller general to review the workload, responsibilities and number of vacancies among “overworked” Department of Veterans Affairs suicide prevention staff and submit a report to Congress within one year.

The Veterans’ Education, Transition and Opportunity Prioritization Plan Act creates a fourth administration inside the VA -- the Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration -- dedicated to veteran transition to education and employment.

The Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act directs the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct an assessment of all memoranda of understanding and memoranda of agreement between Under Secretary of Health and non-Department of Veterans Affairs entities relating to suicide prevention and mental health services.

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