Senate passes bill investing in veteran suicide prevention efforts

WASHINGTON — Veterans at risk of suicide could soon have more resources available to them.

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The Senate passed a bill that invests more money in outreach programs and treatments for vets dealing with mental health issues.

Veterans have a higher rate of suicide than people who have not served in the military.

“Every day we fail to act, every day we lose another 20 veterans to suicide,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, on the Senate floor. “They need our help.”

The proposal is called the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act.

It’s named after a decorated Navy Seal who helped develop group therapy to help vets with mental health challenges before he died from his own struggle with it in 2018.

“Sadly, Commander Hannon lost his fight with post-traumatic stress, with bipolar disorder and the effects of a brain injury,” said Moran.

The bill calls for increased access to mental health services and fills in gaps in open positions for those services.

It also strengthens the VA’s partnerships with community organizations that serve veterans.

“We need to ensure that every VA Medical center is equipped with the proper personnel, evidence-based treatment options and the best research-informed care to fit the needs of each veteran that walks through its doors,” Moran said.

The bill still needs to pass in the House before going to the President.