ICYMI: Senate Passes Sullivan-backed Veteran Suicide Prevention Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC), celebrated the Senate’s recent unanimous passage of S.785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019, a major veterans mental health legislative package cosponsored by Sullivan that includes hisVeterans Overmedication and Suicide Prevention Act. Also this week, Sullivan joined 34 of his Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, urging them to quickly bring the act up for a vote in the House.
“This National Suicide Prevention Week and Month serve as an opportunity to remember the courageous veterans who too often suffer in silence, men and women who can be among the most vulnerable to the scourge of suicide due to their harrowing experiences in defense of our country.” said Senator Sullivan. “We have a solemn duty as Americans to be there for our veterans returning from war zones today, and those facing down mental health burdens decades after their service. I consider serving our veterans to be one of my highest responsibilities as a senator, as a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and as a representative of the state with more veterans per capita than any other.”
Sullivan’s legislative efforts to combat veteran suicide:
S.1392, the Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act, sponsored by Sullivan, requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on the responsibilities, workload, training, and vacancy rates of suicide prevention coordinators at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill became law on December 20, 2019.
S.167, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, cosponsored by Sullivan, improves and modernizes suicide prevention programs and ensures that the VA is held accountable for providing quality, effective mental health care to veterans. The bill became law on February 12, 2015.
S.2991, the Veteran Overmedication and Suicide Prevention Act of 2019, cosponsored by Sullivan, directs the VA to conduct an independent expert study to determine whether there’s a direct correlation between veteran suicide and a potential overprescribing of medication. The bill passed the Senate on August 5, 2020.
S.3020, the Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach Act, cosponsored by Sullivan, authorizes the VA to enter into contracts with states in order to carry out, coordinate, and enhance health and wellness programs, comprehensive veteran suicide prevention programs, and outreach by the VA and individual states. The bill is under consideration by SVAC.
S.606, the Reach Every Veteran in Crisis Act, cosponsored by Sullivan, requires the VA to establish measurable targets to evaluate the effectiveness of the VA's mental health and suicide prevention media outreach campaigns. The bill is under consideration by SVAC.
S.1906, the Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act, cosponsored by Sullivan, requires the VA to award suicide prevention grants to eligible community-based and private entities to serve the needs of veterans and their families. The bill is under consideration by SVAC.
S.785, Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019, cosponsored by Sullivan, passed the Senate on August 5, 2020.
S.711, the Care and Readiness Enhancement (CARE) for Reservists Act of 2019, cosponsored by Sullivan, expands eligibility for VA mental health services to include members of reserve components of the Armed Forces. The bill passed SVAC on August 5, 2020.
S.2661, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, cosponsored by Sullivan, requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The bill passed the Senate on May 13, 2020.
S.2003, the Suicide Prevention by Eliminating Excessive Digits (SPEED) Act of 2019, cosponsored by Sullivan, requires the FCC to designate a three-digit dialing code that veterans may use to reach a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. The bill was last referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on June 27, 2019.
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