The House Veterans' Affairs Committee today passed Congressman Phil Hare's (D-IL) legislation to expand access to support services for families of veterans with mental health conditions.
Current law allows the VA to provide professional counseling, consultation, training and mental health services to the immediate family members of veterans being treated for service-connected conditions. However, with respect to other veterans, the statute states that the VA may only provide such services when they are initiated during a period of hospitalization. HR 6439the Mental Health for Heroes' Families Acteliminates that hospitalization requirement.
"The families of our veterans continue to make tremendous sacrifices for our nation," Hare said. "Many of them need professional support in order to care for their loved one and themselves. My legislation would end the nitpicking about how a veteran was injured or where they were treated and offer these services to each and every family that needs them."
"We applaud Rep. Hare for championing legislation that would enable VA to provide needed counseling to family members in connection with its treatment of the veteran," said David Shern, President and CEO of Mental Health America. "HR 6439 provides important recognition of the psychological toll that military deployments have had on individual combatants and their families, and moves us closer to healing these hidden wounds of war."
Hare's legislation complements the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) efforts to transform delivery of healthcare from an inpatient-based model to an outpatient model, which has improved efficiency, increased veterans' access to care, and aligned the VA system with the health care industry. It is supported by AMVETS, Disabled America Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and advocacy groups concerned about the mental health of our veterans.
"This bill would simply remove the roadblocks to critical support services for the families of our veterans," Hare said. "I believe it will make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of our nation's heroes and their families by providing them the care they need and deserve."