Bergman vet suicide prevention bill gaining support

Congressman Bergman’s legislation to address Veterans suicide received further public support from the United States Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Robert Wilkie and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe.

The rising tide of advocates for our legislation, H.R. 3495, the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act, comes as our nation strives to end the suicide crisis and its impact on Veterans.  I want to thank Secretary Wilkie and Ranking Member Roe for providing us even more momentum to push this legislation through Congress,” said Rep. Bergman.

This morning, while addressing thousands of Veterans at the 101st American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis, Secretary Wilkie highlighted his support for H.R. 3495. [Listen to the speech HERE]

Yesterday, Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Dr. Phil Roe, formally requested that Chairman Takano add H.R. 3495 to the agenda for the upcoming legislative hearing on September 11th. Dr. Roe explained, “This would greatly expand the reach of the VA’s suicide prevention programs, enable more at-risk servicemembers and veterans to be identified and supported, and improve coordination among currently disparate resources…” [Read the full letter HERE]

“We all share the goal of saving the lives of veterans and I have been encouraged by Secretary Wilkie’s reception of the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act,” said Senator Boozman. “His comments to the American Legion National Convention are another sign of his commitment to work with Congress on reducing veteran suicides and will rally more support for our legislation. I look forward to continuing the effort to provide help and resources to veterans in crisis.”

Background:

  • Over the past 15 years, billions of dollars have been appropriated by Congress for mental health services within the VA —with the most recent budget request reaching $9.4 billion— but the statistic has remained unchanged: 20 Veterans suicides per day.
  • On June 26, 2019, Reps. Jack Bergman (R-MI) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) introduced the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act (Incorporating Measurements and Providing Resources for Outreach to Veterans Everywhere) in the U.S. House of Representatives as a companion to legislation of the same name introduced by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA). [See the original release HERE for more background]

To address the status quo, the “IMPROVE” Act will:

  • Enable the VA to directly or indirectly reach more Veterans than it currently does;
  • Increase coordination among currently disparate community resources that serve a wide variety of Veteran needs – all of which play a part in reducing the feeling of purposelessness that ends in suicide; and
  • Create and inspire broad adoption of a measurement tool that will indicate effectiveness of services provided for Veterans suicide prevention.

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