Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), the Ranking Member and Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) and Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following statements after the House unanimously passed S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act – groundbreaking legislation to connect more veterans with critical mental health care.
“I am proud of the work that Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Tester, Chairman Takano, and I have done today in sending the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to the President’s desk,” said Ranking Member Roe. “Truly making a difference for the men and women who have served requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. We would not have gotten to this point without the unfailing leadership of President Trump and Secretary Wilkie, who led the way in making veteran suicide prevention a national priority, and the unwavering support of our veterans service organization partners and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. While our work to end veteran suicide is not over, today is an unquestionably important step in ensuring that those most in need receive the support they have earned. This bill carries the names of two veterans who were lost to suicide, but it will help generations of veterans to follow overcome it. One of those veterans, Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox, grew up near me in East Tennessee and it is him that I am thinking of today. I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law soon on behalf of Staff Sergeant Fox, Commander Hannon, and the countless other veterans whose lives may have ended but whose memories we will forever honor.”
“Today is a win for bipartisanship with the passage of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act through the House today, and I want to thank Senators Moran and Tester for their hard work passing this fully bipartisan, bicameral package and for their commitment to passing the House’s latest package to address veteran mental health care, the Veterans’ COMPACT Act, through the Senate,” said Chairman Takano. “There is still so much more we need to do to comprehensively reduce veteran suicide, but this is a good first step. I’m grateful that Ranking Member Roe has joined me in making veteran suicide prevention a priority, and I know we all stand ready to work across party lines to meaningfully address this crisis.”
“After working with veterans service organizations, mental health patient advocacy groups, organizations that serve veterans across the country, hundreds of veterans and their families, Ranking Member Tester and I introduced the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to improve mental health care and suicide prevention programs for veterans across the country, especially those in hard-to-reach areas,” said Chairman Moran. “Every day we lose 20 veterans to suicide and this pandemic has further worsened mental health conditions and resulted in more veterans being isolated from friends and family. I applaud Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Roe for prioritizing this important legislation that will bring life-saving care, service and support to veterans. Passing this legislation through Congress was our top priority this Congress, and I look forward to the president quickly signing the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act into law.”
“This is a monumental day: passage of my landmark bill honoring a Montana hero sends a very important message to veterans—and the American public—that Congress can come together during politically turbulent times to do the right things and support those who have sacrificed on our behalf,” said Ranking Member Tester. “One life lost to suicide is one too many, and I thank the Hannon family for partnering with me to honor their son and brother, along with Chairman Moran, leaders on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and countless Veterans Service Organizations, advocates, and veterans in our steadfast effort to connect more veterans with the life-saving mental health care they need and earned. I urge the President to swiftly sign the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act into law, to better treat service-connected mental health conditions and help heal the invisible wounds of war.”
"We are profoundly appreciative of the significant bipartisan accomplishment by Sens. Jerry Moran and Jon Tester, and Reps. Mark Takano and Phil Roe achieved in the final House and Senate passage of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act," said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America CEO Jeremy Butler. "IAVA has made a top priority of this legislation from its beginning and we are pleased that Congress is taking the next big step in combating the veteran suicide crisis."
To learn more about S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, click here.
If you or a veteran you know is in crisis, free, confidential support is available 24/7 by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, texting 838255, or visiting www.veteranscrisisline.net/.