Congressman’s bipartisan legislation to improve access to suicide prevention coordinators passes House
Two bipartisan bills from Congressman Anthony Brindisi overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives as part of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019. This comprehensive reform package previously passed the Senate unanimously and now heads to President Donald J. Trump’s desk for his signature.
“Our veterans sacrificed so much for our country, and I will always fight to ensure that they receive the care and benefits they have earned, including mental health care,” Brindisi said. “This bipartisan package of reforms will expand access to mental health resources and help address the suicide crisis among our nation’s veterans. I am honored that two of my bills could be included in this important legislation that will soon be signed by President Trump.”
The package includes Brindisi’s Access to Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act, which requires the VA to staff every VA Medical Center with at least one suicide prevention coordinator. This bill follows Brindisi’s Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act, which Trump signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019.
Suicide Prevention Coordinators identify high-risk veterans and ensure they receive appropriate care, conduct outreach and promote awareness and suicide prevention best practices within VA, among other responsibilities. Twenty veterans, service-members, reservists and members of the National Guard die by suicide every day.
“Just one veteran lost to suicide is one too many,” Brindisi said. “Our nation’s heroes deserve the very best care, and this bill will help ensure every veteran has a place to turn for help. We cannot rest until the number of veterans lost to suicide reaches zero.”
Also included in the reform package is a bill from Brindisi requiring the VA to expand the capabilities of the Women Veterans Call Center by including a text messaging option for veterans seeking assistance. Brindisi is a member of the bipartisan Women Veterans Taskforce in the House. The bill also directs the VA to improve outreach to women veterans by publishing a website providing information about the benefits and services available to them.
These will be Brindisi’s fifth and sixth bills signed into law, five of which have supported our nation’s veterans and servicemembers. Last year, Trump signed Brindisi’s Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2019 and Brindisi’s Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act.
Brindisi’s Support Procurement of our Nation’s Stainless Steel Act was signed into law as part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.