U. S. Representative David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va.) is a lead sponsor on the Peer Support for Veterans Families Act (H.R. 7964), a bipartisan bill to improve resources for caregivers of veterans with diagnosed mental health issues.
"Our veterans have risked their lives protecting America's freedoms -- our top priority should be ensuring these heroes have access to quality mental health treatments, especially in rural areas," said Rep. McKinley. "Taking care of someone with a mental health disorder can be challenging, putting family members at risk for depression and other health problems. The Peer Support for Veterans Families Act ensures we're providing additional support for our caregivers and families."
The Peer Support for Veterans Families Act (H.R. 7964), directs the Department of Veteran Affairs to set up a pilot program in 10 medical facilities to offer education and peer support programs to veterans' caregivers and families. With the permission of the veteran, caregivers will receive training in understanding mental illness, coping with stress, and de-escalating crisis situations. The new initiative will allow caregivers to learn from and support each other as well as provide them the opportunity to lead trainings and peer support meetings.
The bill directs the VA to choose sites that lack other resources nearby and to contract with training organizations with expertise in evidence-based approaches and military/veteran cultural competence, and that can offer services online whenever possible.
This legislation is also sponsored by Representatives Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) and John Curtis (R-UT).
The legislation is supported by: the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA), the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Association of Suicidology, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and The American Legion.