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BREAKING: Takano, Roe, Tester, Moran Statement on Senate Passage of Takano's Veterans' COMPACT Act--Critical Legislation to Prevent Veteran Suicide

Statement

Date: Nov. 10, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Veterans

Today, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) along with Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) released the following statements after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Chairman Takano's H.R. 8247, the Veterans' Comprehensive Prevention, Access To Care, And Treatment Act Of 2020, or Veterans' COMPACT Act, featuring 9 provisions to help prevent veteran suicide.

"As long as 17 veterans, National Guard members, and reservists die by suicide each day, our work will not be done--but today we made real progress in the fight to reduce veteran suicide," said Chairman Takano. "By passing the Veterans' COMPACT Act through the Senate and sending it to the President's desk, we have another opportunity to serve those who have served us. Our bipartisan, bicameral bill helps address gaps in prevention and care for veterans who are at heightened risk for suicide like women veterans, those who recently separated from military service, and veterans who haven't used VA healthcare recently. It also includes my bill, the Veterans ACCESS Act, to ensure that no veteran experiencing an emergency mental health crisis has to worry about cost when seeking the care they need. There's still so much more to do, but I'm grateful that Senator Moran, Senator Tester, and Ranking Member Roe have joined me in supporting and advancing this comprehensive veteran suicide prevention legislation. Our work to address this crisis is not over, but the comprehensive tools in the Veterans' COMPACT Act will aid us in our efforts to meaningfully reduce veteran suicide."

"I applaud the Senate for passing the Veterans' COMPACT Act today," said Ranking Member Roe. "This key legislation builds on the provisions in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to ensure veterans and their families receive the support, care, and services they need to live full, healthy lives following their brave service. The bill also includes a provision sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey that would create a Task Force to examine how our nation's beautiful national parks and public lands could be used to improve veteran health and wellness. I thank Congressman Smith and Chairman Takano for their work on this bill and I look forward to seeing it signed into law without delay."

"I applaud my Senate colleagues for quickly passing the Veterans' COMPACT Act to increase access to critical mental health care and enhance the lives of our nation's heroes," said Ranking Member Tester. "Effectively curbing the growing national suicide rate starts by taking an aggressive, all-hands-on-deck approach with an increased focus on supporting our veterans and those who are most frequently left behind, including women and individuals at-risk of homelessness. Building on the success of my landmark Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, this bipartisan, bicameral package will ensure we're doing just that by implementing the most effective tools to connect more veterans with life-saving care."

"I'm pleased the Senate advanced Chairman Takano's Veterans' COMPACT Act," said Chairman Moran. "This legislation will provide veterans greater access to emergency suicide prevention care and includes several oversight reports that will assist Congress in holding the VA accountable. The Veterans' COMPACT Act, further enhances the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which invests in veteran suicide prevention while providing our veterans with evidence-based health care, services and support."

The Veterans' COMPACT Act would:

1. Care for those in crisis -- Provide acute crisis care for emergent suicide symptoms (ACCESS Act) -- Chairman Takano (D)

2. Help veterans build networks of support -- Create a pilot program on information sharing between Department of Veterans Affairs and designated relatives and friends of veterans regarding the assistance and benefits available to the veterans -- Rep. Peters (D)

3. Track outcomes of VA's outreach to transitioning servicemembers -- Conduct an annual report on the Solid Start program of the Department of Veterans Affairs -- Reps. Robin Kelly (D) and Mast (R)

4. Tailored education for family members -- Create an education program for family members and caregivers of veterans with mental health disorders -- Reps. Finkenauer (D), Curtis (R), and McKinley (R)

5. Outdoor Recreation Task Force - Create an Interagency Task Force on Outdoor Recreation for veterans--Reps. Adam Smith (D) and Chris Smith (R)

6. Comprehensive Exams for Veterans -- Contact veterans who have not had contact with VA in 2 or more years to encourage them to receive comprehensive exams so that they continue their eligibility for coverage of emergency care not related to service-connected disabilities -- Rep. Lee (D)

7. Require annual VA Police de-escalation and crisis intervention training -- Reps. Rice (D) and Pappas (D)

8. Analysis to meet needs of homeless women veterans - Conduct a gap analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs programs that provide assistance to women veterans who are homeless -- Rep. Brownley (D)

9. Women Veteran Usage Report -- Provide a report on locations where women veterans are using health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs -- Rep. Brownley (D)

Earlier this year, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs adopted a Comprehensive 7 Pillar Framework to address every factor that may leads to veteran suicide, and so far this year, the House has passed 16 suicide prevention bills. Chairman Takano introduced the Veterans' Comprehensive Prevention, Access To Care, And Treatment Act Of 2020, or Veterans' COMPACT Act, which passed the House unanimously last week.

If you or a veteran you know are struggling, contact the Veteran Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1, or text 838255.


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