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McSally, Kaine Introduce Bill to Provide Veterans with Innovative Mental Health Treatment Options

WASHINGTON. D.C. – U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced a bill today to expand mental health treatment options for veterans to seek innovative therapies to combat PTSD and other mental health issues.

The Veterans Posttraumatic Growth Act requires the VA to conduct a pilot program to study the benefits of nonprofit posttraumatic growth programs relative to traditional models of mental health care. Posttraumatic growth therapy and whole health therapy address many factors in a person’s life, such as relationships, family, jobs, finances, and others, instead of focusing solely on traditional therapies and pharmaceutical options.

“Despite increased funding at the VA over the past few years, veteran suicide continues to tragically take the lives of the men and women who served our country in uniform at an alarming rate,” said McSally. “Every veteran is impacted differently, so it’s important that all veterans have access to care that helps them, rather than taking a one-size-fits all approach. Our bill would allow veterans utilizing the VA to access novel and non-traditional treatments that could make a difference in their life.”

“Our bill makes a small investment that could have an enormous impact on improving mental health care for veterans. Launching this pilot program is a step we can and should take to provide more veterans with access to the treatment necessary to cope with mental health issues following service to our country,” Kaine said.

Many veterans continue to struggle with mental health issues and rely on the VA for treatment and counseling. According to the 2019 VA Mental Health Program and Suicide Prevention Services Independent Evaluation, more than 35 percent of veterans using Veterans Health Administration services were identified as possibly requiring mental health care treatment. On average, nearly 20 current or former servicemembers die by suicide each day.

Many of these success stories are taking place at Boulder Crest. The nonprofit has locations in Arizona and Virginia. Their vision is “to revolutionize a strength-based model of healing, founded on Post-Traumatic Growth, that integrates evidence-based therapies, a safe, peaceful space, world-class experts, and unparalleled customer service to improve the physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic wellbeing of our nation’s combat veterans and their families.”

"We are honored by Senator McSally and Senator Kaine’s support of legislation that will create a pilot program for Posttraumatic Growth at the VA. For the past five years, Boulder Crest has worked tirelessly to develop a Posttraumatic Growth based approach that ensures our veterans can transform struggle into strength, and live great lives at home. As our nation's mental health crisis goes from bad to worse, innovative approaches to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicide are going to be a critical part of the answer. This bill is an important step in that direction, and we applaud Senator McSally and Senator Kaine for their foresight and commitment to our nation's veterans,” said Ken Falke, Founder, Boulder Crest.

In March 2019, McSally and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) pressed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on instituting meaningful action to combat veteran suicide.

In December 2019, McSally advocated for more federal and local partnerships to reduce the rate of veteran suicide at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearing.

In November 2019, McSally (R-AZ) asked Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to improve Native Americans veterans’ access to mental health care in an effort to reduce the number of Native veteran suicides.

Through his work on the Senate Armed Services and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees, Kaine has been an advocate for investments in mental health services and suicide prevention efforts.

In July 2018, Kaine urged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to release data on suicide rates among military families.

In March 2019, Kaine joined Senator Tester (D-MT) to introduce bipartisan legislation to improve veterans’ access to mental health care.