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Public Statements

House Vets Committee Approves Berkley "Justin Bailey Act"

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Location: Washington, DC


HOUSE VETS COMMITTEE APPROVES BERKLEY "JUSTIN BAILEY ACT"

Legislation Named in Honor of Las Vegas Iraq Veteran Seeks to Expand and Improve Mental Health Services at VA Facilities

The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs today approved legislation coauthored by Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) that seeks to improve and expand mental health services through the Veterans Administration (VA), including treatment for substance use disorders.

"This legislation will help to expand and improve VA mental health services. This care is critical for today's veterans and for those currently serving in America's armed forces, many of whom may need mental health services once they return from active duty. I am extremely pleased that my colleagues on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee approved the Justin Bailey Act and I remain hopeful that this important legislation will soon come before the full House for a vote," said Berkley, who serves on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

The Justin Bailey Substance Use Disorders Prevention and Treatment Act of 2008, HR 5554, will assist veterans of all ages, including U.S. troops now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Following today's committee action, the bill is now poised to receive a vote before the full U.S. House of Representatives.

"Studies have shown that as many as one in five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing PTSD and as a result, some of these men and women may also become dependent on alcohol or drugs. That is why we must take the necessary steps to ensure that veterans can receive treatment through the VA for substance use disorders and that the care they are given is effective and includes comprehensive monitoring," said Berkley.

The legislation is named in honor of late Marine Lance Corporal Justin Bailey, a 1998 graduate of Las Vegas High School who served in Iraq. Bailey, who was diagnosed with PTSD following his return from active duty, sought substance abuse treatment through the VA. The 27-year-old veteran died while receiving care at a VA clinic in Los Angeles.

"The comprehensive review required in my bill will help to ensure our newest veterans receive proper care when they turn to the VA, including vital mental health services. My goal is to make sure that what happened in the case of Las Vegas veteran Justin Bailey is never repeated and that no other family has to watch their son or daughter die while under the VA's care."

A provision authored by Berkley in The Justin Bailey Substance Use Disorders Prevention and Treatment Act of 2008 requires the Secretary of the VA to complete a review and report on residential mental health care facilities of the Veterans Health Administration.

The review and report will provide:

* A description of the availability of care in residential mental health care facilities in each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN).

* An assessment of the supervision and support provided in the residential mental health care facilities of the Veterans Health Administration.

* The ratio of staff members at each residential mental health care facility to patients at such facility.

* An assessment of the appropriateness of rules and procedures for the prescription and administration of medications to patients in such residential mental health care facilities.

* A description of the protocols at each residential mental health care facility for handling missed appointments.

Any recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate for improvements to such residential mental health care facilities and the care provided in such facilities.


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