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Kaine Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Mental Health Services For Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and John Boozman (R-AR) in introducing the bipartisan Vet Center Support Act to provide better identification, intervention, and care to veterans coping with mental health issues in underserved areas. The measure would also help identify barriers preventing the construction of additional Vet Centers.

“U.S. servicemembers and their families have sacrificed so much to protect the United States. We must ensure they have access to the services they need, particularly mental health resources,” said Senator Kaine.

Approximately 17 veterans take their lives every day, most of whom are not actively receiving care from the VA. Vet Centers fill an important gap between the VA and private health care by providing community based mental health, counseling, and readjustment services to veterans, active duty, National Guard members, Reservists, and their families. The services that they provide have proven successful in reducing and preventing veteran suicide through a host of mental health interventions. Despite their proven effectiveness, gaps remain in the distribution of Vet Centers throughout the nation.

The Vet Center Support Act directs the VA to assess its ability to provide the full spectrum of mental health and counseling services, to identify barriers to building new Vet Centers in underserved areas, and to analyze staffing shortages. Studying these inequities and identifying solutions will help improve the delivery of mental health care and counseling services to our veterans, servicemembers, and their families who are most in need.

The legislation is also supported by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tom Cotton (R-AR). Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN-2) introduced a House version of the bill, H.R. 3674.