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Ranking Member Bost, Chairman Takano Introduce STRONG Veterans Act

Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 6411, the Supporting the Resilience of Our Nation’s Great Veterans Act of 2022 or the STRONG Veterans Act. This legislation gives the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) important new authorities and resources to support veterans’ mental health and well-being through increased training, outreach, mental health care delivery, and research.

This package of legislation, developed by House and Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Members in consultation with Veterans Service Organizations, is based on 22 bipartisan bills that will build upon the success of the Veterans’ COMPACT Act and Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Healthcare Improvement Act that passed into law last Congress. The STRONG Veterans Act includes legislation advanced through the House this Congress from Reps. Miller-Meeks, Bost, Takano, Murphy, Rouzer, Ellzey, Brownley, Delgado, Slotkin, Porter, Peters, and Allred, as well as recently introduced legislation in the Senate focused on post-9/11 veterans. See full bill text here and mental health resources are available for veterans here.

“The sluggish recovery from COVID-19, the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, and our struggling economy have taken a toll on the mental health of all Americans, including our servicemembers and veterans,” said Ranking Member Bost. “That’s why I am excited to join Chairman Takano in introducing the STRONG Veterans Act this afternoon. As its name suggests, this bill includes a number of bipartisan, bicameral proposals to strengthen VA’s mental health and suicide prevention programs to save lives. It will help more veterans and military families get the help they need, when and where they need it. I thank the Chairman, our colleagues, and our Senate partners for their work on this bill. I look forward to ensuring it is paid for and signed into law in short order.”

“Veteran suicide prevention has long been a top priority of mine, and while we made significant progress last Congress, our work is not finished. That’s why I’m introducing the STRONG Veterans Act with Ranking Member Bost,” said Chairman Takano. “This comprehensive bipartisan package will bolster VA’s efforts to support veterans’ mental health and ensure that all veterans can equitably access VA’s life-saving resources—especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. I’m encouraged that President Biden and VA Secretary McDonough are also following a public health approach in their work to reduce veteran suicide—our STRONG Veterans Act will complement their efforts and give VA even more tools to meaningfully reduce suicide.”

Among other provisions, the STRONG Veterans Act will:
• Open eligibility for more student veterans at Vet Centers
• Expand culturally competent suicide prevention at VA for native veterans
• Significantly increase mental health staffing and training at VA medical centers and Vet Centers
• Further strengthen the Veterans Crisis Line
• Allow more veterans to benefit from engaging with peer specialists
• Collect data for VA to guide expansion of inpatient mental health and substance use treatment

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at http://VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

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