Manchin Calls On House To Pass Veterans Mental Health Legislation
Manchin called on the House of Representatives to pass the John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Improvement Act previously passed by the Senate
Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC), called on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Improvement Act (S. 785) which he introduced on March 13th, 2019 and was passed by the Senate on August 5th, 2020. Senator Manchin pressed for actions to address the high rate of Veteran suicide in West Virginia and across America. Senator Manchin also sent a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi urging the passage of this legislation.
“On average, one West Virginian dies by suicide every twenty-four hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Mountain State has experienced a 37% increase in suicide deaths since 1999, and there is no group more impacted than our military Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that more than seventeen Veterans die by suicide every day across the United States, twenty a day if you include military members. That means suicide rates among Veterans is nearly twice that of the general population… It’s a national tragedy. The brave men and women who have fought for our country, have served and risked their lives for our nation deserve nothing less than the best we can offer. I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of S. 785, The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Improvement Act, and join my colleagues in calling on the House to pass the bill as well,” said Senator Manchin.
During the hearing, Senator Manchin also called on the VA to prepare for the launch of 988 as the dialing code for the Veterans Crisis Line and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as part of Senator Manchin’s efforts to establish an easy-to-remember three-digit dialing code.
“One of the first lines of defense we have in preventing Veteran suicide is the Veterans Crisis Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, that number is 1-800-273-8255. How many Veterans, family members, or caregivers, do you think have that memorized? How many do you think could actually have that number ready to dial during a time of crisis? I hate to say that I don’t think many do and know that number by heart. Which is why I’ve advocated with my colleagues for a three digit dialing code for Veterans hotline. I’m pleased the FCC heard our calls and approved 988 as the three digital dialing code for the Veterans Crisis Line and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” said Senator Manchin.
West Virginia’s Veteran suicide rate is higher than the national average and one of the highest in Appalachia. The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act will improve outreach to Veterans and their mental healthcare options. This legislation is a comprehensive and aggressive approach to connect more Veterans with the mental healthcare they need and earned. This bill seeks to improve VA care by bolstering the VA's mental health workforce and increasing rural or hard-to-reach Veterans' access to VA care. Additionally, this bill supports President Trump’s executive order on Veteran suicide by funding alternative treatments from community-based organizations.
To watch a video of Senator Manchin during the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, click here.
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