Chairman Takano Applauds House Passage of His Bipartisan STRONG Veterans Act
Miguel R. Salazar (202-779-1486)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs (HVAC) Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) released the following statement following House passage of his bill, the Support The Resiliency of Our Nation’s Great Veterans Act – or STRONG Veterans Act:
"Preventing veteran suicide and strengthening veterans’ mental health and wellbeing remains a top priority not only of VA, but also of this Committee. It is our belief that caring for veterans when they return home includes preventing and treating the visible and invisible wounds of service,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “While we were thrilled to see the veteran suicide rate drop in the last year for which we have data, it is clear that more must be done to help veterans in crisis. This legislation addresses gaps all along the spectrum of prevention and care, by expanding mental health outreach to traditionally underserved veterans, developing and delivering the most effective treatments, better equipping VA’s workforce to provide care, and further strengthening VA’s crisis response system. My STRONG Veterans Act would also give VA new authorities to support veterans’ mental health and well-being through increased training and research. I want to thank Ranking Member Bost for introducing this bill with me and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle who voted to expand access to these life-saving efforts for all veterans. With today’s passage, we can help meet veterans where they are and continue our efforts to meaningfully reduce veteran suicide.”
Background: The Support the Resilience of Our Nation’s Great (STRONG) Veterans Act is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that supports veterans’ mental health and wellbeing through increased outreach, mental health care, suicide prevention, provider training, and research from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Provisions from House and Senate Members bring the latest evidence to bear on this top clinical priority for both Congress and VA.
The STRONG Veterans Act will:
- Increase and improve training of VA’s mental health provider workforce;
- Further strengthen the Veterans Crisis Line as demand is projected to surge with a new 3-digit hotline number going live in July;
- Require explicit mental health and suicide prevention outreach to traditionally underserved veteran populations, including Native veterans;
- Expand popular peer mental health services to reach more veterans;
- Open up eligibility for Vet Center services to more student veterans and families who have lost veterans to suicide; and
- Deepen research knowledge of veteran mental health challenges and suicide prevention to further guide evidence-based prevention and care.
If you are a veteran and having suicidal thoughts, the Veterans Crisis Line provides free, confidential support and crisis intervention 24/7, 365 days a year. The Veterans Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, texting 838255, or by visiting https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help-now/chat/.