The Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee this week passed the bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S. 785), sponsored by Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
The bill will provide veterans with increased mental health care and availability to services such as chiropractic and acupuncture for pain relief.
Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act
“Our bill honors Commander John Scott Hannon’s legacy, by providing more veterans with the mental health care and services they desperately need,” Ranking Member Tester said as reported by WIBW in Topeka, Kansas. “This comprehensive approach — combining supportive services with evidence-based clinical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs — will ensure that no veteran slips through the cracks. I want to sincerely thank Chairman Moran for his leadership, and for working with me to get this bill where it is today.”
The act is designed to expand mental health care for veterans by improving the VA via increasing access options for veteran health care, and studying alternative treatment options.
“Complementary and integrative health treatments have the potential to be life changing for our veterans, from managing chronic pain and reducing dependency on prescriptions, to helping treat anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Dr. Michele Maiers, DC, MPH, PhD, and executive director of Research and Innovation.
“It’s a great step forward to see the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs approve the bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S. 785). This legislation will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs to complete a study on the feasibility and advisability of providing complementary and integrative health treatments, including acupuncture and chiropractic care. Thank you to Senators Jon Tester and Jerry Moran for your leadership on driving this legislation forward.”
The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act is intended to additionally assist military veterans and soldiers as they transition out of service and to combat the rising veteran suicide rates.
“Losing one veteran to suicide is too many, but sadly an estimated 20 veterans die by suicide each day,” Chairman Moran said. “As our veterans transition out of the military, they are dealing with the invisible wounds of war that often go unnoticed and untreated. This legislation, named after an American hero we lost to mental health struggles, offers critical resources to help veterans struggling with mental health.”
Military health care bills in the pipeline
Another bill under consideration is House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano’s (D-Calif.) suicide prevention proposal, dubbed the Veterans ACCESS Act, where the Department of Veterans Affairs would pay for any veterans’ emergency mental health care treatments, regardless of individual’s discharge status or where the visits take place.
In March the White House is scheduled to unveil the results of a year-long effort to provide new solutions to veterans suicide, promising a “roadmap for veteran suicide prevention” for both federal agencies and local community organizers.