Chairman Takano Announces New Compromise on Legislation to Address Veteran Suicide
Jenni Geurink (202-225-9756)
Miguel R. Salazar
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) announced a new compromise that will amend legislation to address veteran suicide. Chairman Takano’s compromise amendment to H.R. 3495, the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act, introduced by Representative Bergman and Representative Houlahan, will utilize a public health approach that helps connect veterans with existing community resources in an effort to provide key services before a veteran reaches a point of crisis.
“After months of working with VSOs, mental health professionals, and subject matter experts in addition to several meetings with my Republican colleagues and their staff, we finally have a new approach to veteran suicide prevention,” said Chairman Takano. “By allowing VA to responsibly partner with the community organizations already serving veterans, we can protect VA’s expertise in providing clinical care and begin to reach the 60 percent of veterans not using VA healthcare. Through this public health approach, I believe we can reduce the overall number of veteran suicides.”
Coordinating organizations can help connect veterans to resources already present in their communities.
Chairman Takano’s public health approach will:
-Connect veterans with resources already available within their communities
-Strengthen the coordination and capacity of community based organizations that serve veterans
-Ensure taxpayer funds are spent responsibly
As amended, H.R. 3495 delivers a public health solution focused on “upstream intervention” - the idea that if we provide wrap-around services to address life stressors such as housing insecurity, unemployment, or social isolation, we can better prevent veterans from experiencing the acute hopelessness that often leads to suicidal ideation itself. By authorizing VA to provide grants to community-based organizations that both coordinate and deliver social services that mitigate known life stressors, this legislation creates a public health infrastructure and ensures key accountability measures are in place to protect these taxpayer funds. Through these community networks, this legislation creates an opportunity for communities as a whole to surround and support veterans with the services they seek most often.
Background: Seventeen veterans die by suicide each day, and after three suicides in just five days at VA facilities this past April, Chairman Takano made addressing veterans suicide the Committee’s top priority. To date, the Committee has held hearings, moderated roundtables, and passed six bipartisan bills to address this crisis. In August, Chairman Takano also called for a called for a VA wide stand-down to address this crisis and ensure all VA employees have the training they need to identify and care for veterans experiencing a mental health crisis, assess whether all VA medical facilities are equipped with key safety features, and identify any gaps in policies and procedures that must be fixed.
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