BULLDOG PERSISTENCE YIELDS RESULTS
Since 1998, the highly regarded National Sons of AMVETS have STORMED THE HILL and carried the AMVETS Legislative Priorities to each member of Congress in support of legislation that promotes and provides positive benefits to our nation’s Veterans. Their BULLDOG lobbying approach and persistence aided in the passage of the Commander John Scott Hannon bill which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in October.
The bill contains dozens of methods to prevent suicide among veterans, including measures to boost mental health research and staffing at the Department of Veterans Affairs and establish a multimillion-dollar grant program for state and local groups. Senators. Jerry Moran and Jon Tester, leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the bipartisan bill had the potential to reform mental health care at the VA and improve veterans’ access to lifesaving mental health services.
The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act will improve outreach to veterans and their mental health care options in six major ways:
Bolstering VA’s mental health workforce to serve more veterans by offering scholarships to mental health professionals to work at Vet Centers and placing at least one Suicide Prevention Coordinator in every VA hospital.
Improving rural veterans’ access to mental health care by increasing the number of locations at which veterans can access VA telehealth services.
Implementing a pilot program to provide veterans access to complementary and integrative health programs through animal therapy, agritherapy, sports and recreation therapy, art therapy and post-traumatic growth.
Establishing a grant program that requires VA to better collaborate with community organizations across the country already serving veterans. This collaboration will result in earlier identification of veterans who are at risk of suicide and will provide the ability to intervene with preventative services.
Studying the impact of living at high altitude on veterans’ suicide risk and diagnostic biomarker research to identify depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions.
Holding the VA accountable for its mental health care and suicide prevention efforts by examining how the Department manages its suicide prevention resources.
In addition to the Commander John Scott Hannon Act, President Trump signed into law the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020. The new law designates 9-8-8 as the universal phone number for mental health emergencies.