Nationwide Hotline For Veterans and Civilians
On October 18, 2020, when President Trump signed into law Senate bill 798 from U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.)—Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee— a new suicide prevention national hotline of 988 also kicked off.
Called both a landmark and a groundbreaking law that goes by the long name of The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, expect many new and different Veterans PTSD and Veteran suicide prevention services around the country. What makes the new law groundbreaking is that the VA is for the first time, accepting that Veteran charities and others can help, and that there are provisions to hold the VA accountable for it’s own. Credit to the VA leadership for stepping up and for the Congress that helped forge this bi-partisan bill.
John “Scott” Hannon along with Ruby
Admittedly, the 988 number is not the headline here. The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act will improve outreach to veterans and their mental health care options in six major ways:
· Bolstering VA’s mental health workforce to serve more veterans by offering scholarships to mental health professionals to work at Vet Centers and placing at least one Suicide Prevention Coordinator in every VA hospital.
· Improving rural veterans’ access to mental health care by increasing the number of locations at which veterans can access VA telehealth services.
· Implementing a pilot program to provide veterans access to complementary and integrative health programs through animal therapy, agritherapy, sports and recreation therapy, art therapy and post-traumatic growth.
· Establishing a grant program that requires VA to better collaborate with community organizations across the country already serving veterans. This collaboration will result in earlier identification of veterans who are at risk of suicide and will provide the ability to intervene with preventative services.
· Studying the impact of living at high altitude on veterans’ suicide risk and diagnostic biomarker research to identify depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions.
· Holding the VA accountable for its mental health care and suicide prevention efforts by examining how the Department manages its suicide prevention resources.
ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER
Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.
Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.
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