September 14, 2020

Chairman Takano Announces Bicameral Agreement on House-led Veteran Suicide Prevention Legislation

Introduces Veterans’ COMPACT Act featuring 9 provisions that complement Senate’s Efforts, including the Veterans ACCESS Act

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)

Miguel R. Salazar

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) released the Veterans’ Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment Act of 2020, or Veterans’ COMPACT Act, featuring 9 provisions that complement the Senate’s  Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to reduce veteran suicide. This package, which includes Chairman Takano’s Veterans Acute Crisis Care for Emergent Suicide Symptoms (ACCESS) Act to ensure veterans in crisis can receive emergency mental health care regardless of cost, will address gaps in current law and better address the angles, factors, and intersections that may lead to suicide. These provisions will be featured at the Committee’s markup on Thursday, September 17, move quickly to House passage next week, and the Senate has agreed to pass the package in full. 

“For months, this Committee has been dedicated to developing comprehensive veteran suicide prevention legislation to work in tandem with Senate efforts and deliver legislation that would help prevent veterans from falling into crisis and reduce veteran suicide,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “Today, I am proud to announce we have reached an agreement with Senator Moran and our Senate colleagues that will include passage of S.785 and our bill, the Veterans’ COMPACT Act.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve the very best we can offer, and I am pleased that at our legislative hearing last week, we discussed many possible solutions for how we might finally significantly reduce suicide and improve the overall mental health of our veterans’ community.

“This agreement will make real progress towards reducing veteran suicide, but our work is not finished. I look forward to building on nearly two years’ work to continue improving the lives of those who have served our country, and do our utmost to prevent veteran suicide.”                       

Provisions included in Veterans’ COMPACT Act would: 

1.    Care for those in crisis - Provide acute crisis care for emergent suicide symptoms (ACCESS Act) - Chairman Takano (D)

2.    Help veterans build networks of support - Create a pilot program on information sharing between Department of Veterans Affairs and designated relatives and friends of veterans regarding the assistance and benefits available to the veterans - Rep. Peters (D)

3.    Track outcomes of VA’s outreach to transitioning servicemembers- Conduct an annual report on the Solid Start program of the Department of Veterans Affairs - Reps. Robin Kelly (D) & Mast (R)

4.    Tailored education for family members  - Create an education program for family members and caregivers of veterans with mental health disorders - Reps. Finkenauer (D), Curtis (R),  & McKinley (R)

5.    Outdoor Recreation Task Force  - Make an Interagency Task Force on Outdoor Recreation for veterans-- Reps. Adam Smith (D) and Chris Smith (R)

6.    Comprehensive Exams for Veterans - Contact veterans that have not had contact with VA in 2 or more years to encourage them to receive comprehensive exams so that they continue their eligibility for coverage of emergency care not related to service-connected disabilities- Rep. Lee (D) 

7.    Require annual VA Police de-escalation and crisis intervention training - Reps. Rice (D) and Pappas (D)

8.    Analysis to meet needs of homeless women veterans -  Conduct a gap analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs programs that provide assistance to women veterans who are homeless - Rep. Brownley (D)

9.    Women Veteran Usage Report - Provide a report on locations where women veterans are using health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs - Rep. Brownley (D)