August 24, 2020

Chairman Takano Announces Hearing on Comprehensive Veteran Suicide Prevention Legislation

New bills build on S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, to meaningfully reduce veteran suicide

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)

Miguel R. Salazar

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Committee of Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) announced a legislative hearing on the Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020 and the Committee’s 14 additions to the bill package that will make up the House Companion to S.785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. On September 10, 2020 at 10:00 am ET, the Full Committee will gather to discuss 26 bills that address veteran suicide including key fixes to the Senate’s bill package, Chairman Takano’s Veterans ACCESS Act, and additional legislation that covers gaps identified by mental health experts, stakeholders, and the White House PREVENTS Task Force. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and multiple Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) have been invited to testify. 


“Recent Senate action to advance veteran suicide prevention legislation offers a promising start, but it is the People’s house that must complete the work necessary to tackle this crisis,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “If we’re serious about reducing veteran suicide, we need sweeping legislative action backed up by mental health experts and veteran stakeholders that addresses recommendations from the PREVENTS Task Force and Department of Defense. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has already begun this work — and on September 10, we will meet to discuss 26 truly comprehensive bills to address this crisis. Never before has this Committee advanced monumental veterans policy without first fully understanding what it will cost American taxpayers, and more importantly, what impact incomplete legislative efforts could have on veterans’ lives. We are committed to ensuring VA provides high quality and timely care and benefits to our nation’s veterans – on this we will not compromise.”


So far this summer, the Committee has introduced six new suicide prevention bills that would require outreach and mental health care to American Indians and Alaska Native veteransprovide peer support to veterans’ families,  reform VA Police,examine VA’s Solid Start programimplement the Zero Suicide Initiative, and mandate suicide prevention training for community health providers. The 26 bills on the hearing agenda align with the Committee’s comprehensive seven pillar approach to prevent veteran suicide by addressing every angle, factor, and intersection that may lead to suicide itself. 


Background: Earlier this year, the Committee adopted a comprehensive 7 pillar framework to address every factor that may leads to veteran suicide. Building on this strategy, Chairman Takano introduced the Veterans ACCESS Act — meaningful legislation that would ensure all veterans – regardless of discharge status or whether they receive care at VA hospitals – have access to the emergent mental health care they need.