Column: Protecting Our Heroes: Biparty Action Tackle Veterans’ Mental Health Issues | Notice


America’s veterans have answered the call to serve their fellow citizens, but too many are returning home due to mental and emotional trauma. Often times, they need help making the transition home and reintegrating into their community, but they may not know where to seek help.

The mental health issues facing veterans are unique and incredibly personal and, at an alarming rate, they can lead to tragedy.

Veterans are at a higher risk of suicide than those who did not serve. They also face other risks, including homelessness and drug addiction. As a country, we must do better.

Veterans sacrifice a great deal to protect our freedom and security. So it goes without saying that as a country we have an obligation to ensure that veterans have the support and resources they need and have won. That’s why we are collaborating on a bipartisan basis to improve mental health services and supports for those who have served to protect us.

One of the efforts we are focused on is leveraging the American Legion’s “National Week of Appeal” to connect veterans with each other and ensure they receive the care they need. .

The Buddy Check program recognizes that the best source of help for a Veteran may be a friend and veteran colleague who has had a similar experience, who understands their struggles, and who can provide peer support.

This peer support lets veterans know that they are not the only ones facing these challenges and that it is okay to ask for help.

Our bill calls on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as “Buddy Check Week”. The AV would work directly with nonprofit organizations that serve veterans, mental health experts, and members of the military to provide training opportunities for veterans to learn how to perform well-being checks. be and recognize the signs of suicide risk in other veterans.

This bill builds on the efforts of the American Legion and it is a real opportunity to help veterans be there for each other and remind all Americans that they should speak out s ‘they need support for mental health issues.

To further ensure that veterans receive the support they need, we have also reintroduced our National Green Alert Act.

For a variety of reasons, far too many veterans struggling with mental health issues and at risk of suicide go missing for long periods of time before being found. Our bill would help correct this by providing federal assistance to help states implement “green alert” systems.

With a state system in place, when a veteran goes missing, law enforcement and the public will be notified to help locate him and help them receive the proper care. This system would be similar to the Silver Alert system for older Americans and the Amber Alert system for children, and is a common sense step in helping veterans in need.

Passing and passing these two bills will be major steps in providing vital resources that can help improve and save lives. And we hope it also serves to demonstrate to veterans that their fellow Americans really want to be there for them, just as they have been for us.

There is simply no room for partisanship when it comes to supporting our nation’s heroes. When our men and women in uniform rise up to serve our country, whether they are Republicans, Democrats or Independents, they are serving because they are united for the common purpose of protecting our country and our freedoms.

We are focused on taking this bipartisan approach to supporting veterans in Congress. And we will continue to work together, and with our colleagues on both sides, to provide veterans with the care they need and deserve.

Senator Maggie Hassan is a Democrat representing New Hampshire in the United States Senate. Senator Joni Ernst is a Republican who represents Iowa.

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