In the News
Sep 23 2020
Wichita Eagle | Katie Bernard
A bipartisan bill aimed at reducing the suicide rate among veterans will move to the President’s desk after the U.S. House of Representatives passed it by a voice vote, Wednesday.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, introduced the measure, which was named for a Navy SEAL who died by suicide, last year. It passed the Senate in August before moving to the House this month.
“Every day we lose 20 veterans to suicide and this pandemic has further worsened mental health conditions and resulted in more veterans being isolated from friends and family,” Moran said in a statement. “Passing this legislation to serve veterans was our top priority this Congress, and I look forward to the president quickly signing the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act into law.”
In her own statement Wednesday, Hannon’s sister, Kim Parrott, praised Moran and Tester for their bipartisan effort.
“Not only does this honor my brother’s legacy, it provides closure for my family,” she said. “Most importantly, this legislation is a beacon of light to so many more veterans and their families on their journey home from military service to civilian life.”
If signed by President Donald Trump, the bill would increase access to Veterans Affairs telehealth services and various mental health therapies. It would also create a grant program requiring the VA to collaborate with community organizations already serving veterans and provide scholarships to mental health professionals working in vet centers.
The measure also calls for a study of the VA’s current management of suicide prevention efforts and the impact of high altitude on depression, post-traumatic stress and other conditions.
Moran became the chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee in January and said last year passing legislation to reduce veteran suicide would be one of his top priorities.