Veterans’ aid bill signed into law

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U.S. Rep Joe Morelle (D-NY) announced Tuesday that provisions he authored to help veterans in crisis and reduce veteran suicide rates have been included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, signed into law Oct. 17.

“Suicide claims the lives of over 7,000 veterans every single year – or 20 veterans every day,” Morelle said. “This is a crisis that is tearing apart families across America. These brave men and women put everything on the line for our country, and we must ensure they have the tools they need to get the help they deserve.”

Sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), the Hannon Act ensures veterans have access to mental health care resources. The legislation includes provisions of Morelle’s Reach Every Veteran in Crisis Act that was intended to combat veteran suicide.

Provisions from Morelle’s bill included in the Hannon Act include: ensuring resources already allocated by Congress are used effectively and efficiently; establishing targets to evaluate the efficacy of mental health and suicide prevention outreach campaigns; submitting reports on the expenditures and obligations of Veterans’ Health Administration’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs, and Appropriations Committees.

Morelle wrote the legislation in 2019 after learning the VA had spent a fraction of its suicide prevention media outreach budget and that the agency never established ways to evaluate the efficacy of its suicide prevention campaign.

“DAV is pleased that provisions from Representative Morelle’s legislation The Reach Every Veteran in Crisis Act were included in the recently-passed Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019,” said Joy J Ilem, National Legislative Director of Disabled American Veterans. “Effective mental health and suicide prevention media outreach campaigns are an essential part of combating the crisis of veteran suicide. We thank Representative Morelle for his efforts to prevent veteran suicide and improve the lives of our nation’s veterans through his legislation aimed at improved oversight and evaluation of VA’s suicide prevention media outreach campaigns.”

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