The House of Representatives today passed Congressman Phil Hare's legislation to expand access to support services for families of veterans with mental health conditions.
"Mental health care is the single greatest challenge facing the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) today," Hare said. "Too many families of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and related conditions are being denied access to critical counseling and support services. My bill would provide these families, and most importantly the veteran, the care they need and deserve."
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 when such services are deemed necessary for the veteran's treatment. 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.
"Military families continue to make tremendous sacrifices for our nation," Hare said. "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. "His legislation 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."
The bill is supported by AMVETS, Disabled America Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and several mental health advocacy groups.
"With this legislation, we are removing the roadblocks to critical support services for veterans and their families," Hare said. "They deserve nothing less."