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Corrine B.
Democrat FL 5

About Rep. Corrine
  • Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act

    by Representative Corrine Brown

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    BROWN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 203, the Clay Hunt SAV Act. This legislation passed the House last month in the closing days of the 113th Congress. I am pleased that we were able to act on this measure as one of the first items of business in the 114th Congress.

    Providing the mental health care that veterans need and effectively dealing with the crisis of veteran suicides have been longstanding concerns of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. War is indeed terrible, and the effects of combat and service on our veterans lasts a lifetime. For far too long, society--and the military culture itself--has acted as if the need for mental health care treatment is a weakness and has discouraged adequate treatment. This attitude is changing, but it cannot change fast enough. In the area of mental health for our veterans and returning servicemembers, there is no easy answer or quick fix.

    I appreciate the work of my friend from Minnesota, Tim Walz; Chairman Miller; and all of my colleagues on the committee in fashioning a bill that I believe will make a difference in the lives of our veterans.

    H.R. 203 takes a number of important steps, including improving the safety net for at-risk veterans, while also introducing some accountability into the VA mental health care and suicide prevention program, using a third-party evaluation. It will provide veterans with a Web site that will serve as a centralized source of information on mental health services.

    H.R. 203 initiates a program to help address some of the glaring mental health personnel shortages at the VA. While the incentives in this bill are limited to the psychiatry field, I would like to see this effort expanded in the future to all the mental health professional shortfalls.

    {time} 1715 H.R. 203 would expand peer support networks, which we have heard are quite effectively used. And I believe the reporting requirement in this bill will confirm that additional resources should be permanently dedicated to fully utilizing peer support.

    H.R. 203 would also provide an additional window of eligibility for combat veterans who may have missed the window of opportunity to sign up for VA health care. This extra time will help to ensure that veterans receive the health care, including mental health care, that they need.

    I thank the chairman for working to bring this bill up quickly so that the House can act and send this important measure to the Senate. I look forward to working with Chairman Miller, and with Florida being the State with the second-largest population of veterans and the most senior population, I know that the committee will do a good job having two of the leadership team from Florida.

    But let me be clear: there are 435 Members of Congress, and each of them have veterans in their district, and we will work to make sure that all veterans get the care that they have earned and deserve.

    [[Page H199]] Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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