Well will you look at that, Congress did something productive.
[UPDATE: The bill unanimously passed the Senate and is headed to the White House. Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson, said that President Obama supports the bill and will sign it into law. The latest provision of the bill requires the Veteran Affairs Department (VAD) to find money within their $160 billion budget for suicide prevention.]
You’ll hear politicians many times expound on the virtues of veterans in numerous stump speeches and various other platforms which they pander from. Yet in recent history, Congress hasn’t necessarily backed up their talk. Whether it’s VFW’s hospital backlogs or treating veterans that suffer PTSD, very little Congressional action has been taken on the part of veterans thus far.
But today tomorrow, Congress will finally pass legislation which does just that.
Last month the House unanimously voted on a measure that would require the Pentagon and the Veteran Affairs Department (VA) to make independent reviews of their suicide prevention programs and make information of suicide prevention more easily available to recent veterans. More importantly the program would encourage psychiatrists and mental health professionals – through financial incentives – to help with the VA’s process of transitioning veterans from active duty to civilian life. The bill reaches the Senate today tomorrow. It’s expected to pass and to be on the President’s desk very soon.
Not surprisingly, this looks to be one of the few pieces of legislation that everyone in Congress can agree upon. As the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states, veterans account for 1 out of every 5 suicides in the United States. That’s a startling statistic. This bill can go a long way for helping many veterans in the future.
Now this thing still has to be funded in the spending bill – in which Congress will start debating that this week – but as it looks right now, Congress is set to pass substantive legislation. I guess the old saying is right, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
(Photo Credit: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)