Rehberg, House Pass Legislation to Help Reduce Veteran Suicides
Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today joined House colleagues in approving legislation to help reduce the number of veteran suicides.
"The effects of war can sometimes linger for years after a soldier returns home," said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "It's critical we have the ability to properly monitor these effects over the years as well as to provide a place for these brave men and women to turn to for any problems down the road. This bill will require the Veterans Affairs Department to implement some very specific policies to help prevent veteran suicides."
The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, introduced by Representative Leonard Boswell (D-IA), directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the number of suicides among veterans. The bill will require the creation of a toll-free hotline, an outreach and education program for veterans and families of veterans, and a peer support counseling program, among other things.
"We need to be more vigilant in regards to our veterans after deployment in the Global War on Terror," said Joe Underkofler, Director of the VA Regional Medical Center at Fort Harrison. "Many times, there are the obvious post deployment issues, but we must also be able recognize these issues when they develop months and even years after the deployment. As opposed to a temporary measure, this bill establishes a more permanent system of care and awareness training for the VA staff."
"It's unacceptable that our veterans to have limited access to the help they need," said Rehberg. "This legislation will hold the VA accountable for providing 24-hour-a-day care to those who have served abroad."
Earlier this month, Rehberg met with General Randy Mosley, Montana National Guard, to the discuss implementation of the Guard's new mental health evaluation plan.