Legislation supports mental health services for veterans

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Earlier this week, the Wounded Warrior Project offered a great “Statement for the Record” to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The analysis focused on five different sections of Senate Bill 785 Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019.

NAMI Montana has been working on this legislation in honor of our dear friend, colleague and Helena Navy SEAL veteran, Commander John Scott Hannon. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Sens. Jon Tester and Jerry Moran to improve veterans’ access to effective mental health care.

Wounded Warrior Project’s analysis focused on five critical pieces of the legislation.

Section 101 extends “VA health care eligibility to transitioning veterans for a full year after their separation or discharge from the Armed Services.

Section 201 creates “a new grant program aimed at organizations that provide and coordinate mental health services for veterans not receiving care at VA.”

Section 205 “would commission a study on the feasibility and advisability of providing certain complementary and integrative health treatments such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and chiropractic care, at all VA medical facilities, either in person or through telehealth when applicable.”

Section 205 would also permit VA to provide these treatments.

Section 305 would expand the “Precision Medicine for Veterans Initiative at VA in order to identify and validate brain and mental health biomarkers.

Section 406 would establish a “Joint DoD/VA National Intrepid Center of Excellence Intrepid Spirit Center in a rural or highly rural area” that would “foster collaboration in treatment, research, and prevention initiatives.”

NAMI Montana fully agrees with Wounded Warrior Project’s analysis of this critical legislation. We think it’s marks a critical step forward in helping our nation’s heroes who bear the hidden wounds of war.

Please consider contacting Senator Steve Daines and asking him to support Senate Bill 785 as part of your efforts to honor Memorial Day.

— Matt Kuntz is an Army veteran and the Executive Director of NAMI Montana

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