Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bergman's Veteran Suicide Prevention Initiative Heads to President's Desk

 Our veterans served to support our most basic fundamental way of life and beliefs about freedom and economy. They are put on the front line and engage in actions that most of us couldn't possible understand. While these sacrifices may sometimes be necessary we do have a responsibility to help them when they get back home. Our freedoms do require a level of care and concern over those who help us keep them. 

This was taken from the press release below......

Washington - Today, the House unanimously passed S.785, a critical Veterans mental health package featuring Representative Jack Bergman’s bipartisan IMPROVE Act. This provision authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to take a new, effective approach in fighting the Veterans suicide crisis by making grants to - and coordinating with - community organizations that provide lifesaving services to local Veterans. Over the course of the 116th Congress, Rep. Bergman has garnered wide support from his colleagues, Veterans, and VSO's for this key legislation, which now heads to President Trump's desk to be signed into law.

S. 785 - the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act - takes aggressive and unprecedented action to connect more Veterans and their families with support services and mental health resources, in their own communities.

According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, nearly 11 of the 17 Veterans who die by suicide each day had not sought care within the VA. Importantly, S. 785 and the IMPROVE Act provision will help the VA connect with these previously unreached Veterans – who are often living in rural and remote areas.

Rep. Bergman, a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a PREVENTS National Ambassador stated, "Even one suicide is too many. Despite billions of dollars spent within the VA, the statistics on Veterans suicide haven't budged. For this reason, we need to implement new approaches that focus on individual Veterans and reach even more of them than before. I'm grateful for the persistent effort of my colleagues who have helped make passing this legislation a possibility. Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, Senators Tester, Boozman and Moran, Secretary Robert Wilkie, and so many others have worked tirelessly with me to ensure our Veterans who've sacrificed so much for our country have access to the care and services they need and deserve."

“Preventing veteran suicide requires a community-wide effort and a commitment to providing veterans who are struggling with the support, care, and treatment that works best for them,” said Ranking Member Roe. “I thank my good friend, General Bergman, for introducing the bipartisan Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act over a year ago which not only did just that, but also jumpstarted the conversation about what Congress could do to find veterans who are at-risk of suicide and help save their lives. I was proud to see General Bergman’s bill included in S. 785, as amended, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which passed the House today and is now en route to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. I have no doubt the grant program this bill will create – which is proudly named after my constituent, the late Staff Sergeant Parker G. Fox – will have a meaningful impact on thousands of veterans’ lives for many years to come.”

“As a veteran and Chair of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus, I am passionate about protecting those who have served our country,” said Rep. Houlahan. “There is a crisis amongst our veteran population – thousands are dying by suicide every year. Within this vulnerable population, it’s important to note that our women veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide as non-veteran women. In these partisan times, I’m grateful to work alongside fellow veteran, Representative Jack Bergman, and my colleagues in the Senate – Senators Tester and Boozman – to tackle this crisis head-on in our bipartisan Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act. I’m also grateful to Chairman Takano for his leadership on this issue and bringing this critical legislation to the House Floor. As a Congress and as a country, we have a duty to stand up for those who’ve put their lives on the line for this country. I look forward to the president signing S.785 into law, which includes our legislation, and the support it will provide our veterans.”

“This is a monumental day: passage of my landmark bill honoring a Montana hero sends a very important message to veterans—and all Americans—that Congress can come together during politically turbulent times to do the right thing and support those who have sacrificed on our behalf,” said Ranking Member Tester. “One life lost to suicide is one too many, and I thank the Hannon family for partnering with me to honor their son, father, and brother, along with Chairman Moran, leaders on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and countless Veterans Service Organizations, advocates, and veterans in our steadfast effort to connect more veterans with the life-saving mental health care they need and earned. I urge the President to swiftly sign the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act into law, to better treat service-connected mental health conditions and help heal the invisible wounds of war.”

Senator Boozman stated, “This new approach will allow us to reach more veterans and support organizations that have a track record of success in suicide prevention. Delivering additional resources to community-based groups providing support and services to at-risk veterans will allow them to expand their outreach, identify more veterans in need and provide great access to mental health care. I’ve been proud to join Senator Warner in leading Senate efforts to devise a strategy that empowers veteran community organizations to work with the VA in the fight against veteran suicide, and so greatly appreciate the hard work of  Representatives Houlahan and Bergman, who championed this effort in the House. I’m glad this will soon become law.” 

“After working with veterans service organizations, mental health patient advocacy groups, organizations that serve veterans across the country, hundreds of veterans and their families, Ranking Member Tester and I introduced the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to improve mental health care and suicide prevention programs for veterans across the country, especially those in hard-to-reach areas,” said SVAC Chairman Moran. “Every day we lose 20 veterans to suicide and this pandemic has further worsened mental health conditions and resulted in more veterans being isolated from friends and family. I applaud Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Roe for prioritizing this important legislation that will bring life-saving care, service and support to veterans. Passing this legislation through Congress was our top priority this Congress, and I look forward to the president quickly signing the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act into law.”

S. 785 also includes new policy to increase the number of mental health professionals in VA facilities, bolster telehealth programs for rural and remote Veterans, and promote innovative treatment options.

Remember, help is always available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by calling 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 if you are a Service member or Veteran) or by chatting online at

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