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Washington Update for 11/4/2020 - Four Veteran Bills signed into Law

 

November 3, 2020

 

 Inside this issue

 

TREA "The Enlisted Association" Washington Update

 

 

TREA "The Enlisted Association" Washington Update

 

 

Four Veterans Bills signed into law

 

 

TREA Advocacy is Successful -- 4 bills signed into law
 

Landmark Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Bill
S.785, Commander John Scott Hannon Act PL 116-171 Oct. 17, 2020.
TREA is constantly lobbying Congress to address the serious challenges many veterans and service members face when transitioning from the military to civilian life. S. 785 - The Commander John Scott Hannon
Veterans Mental Health Improvement Act was recently signed by the President. This critical bill provides veterans with transition assistance, mental health support and telehealth access. It commits VA to deliver bold new initiatives to improve veteran mental health and well-being, and help bring an end to the tragic trends in veteran suicide.

The bill is named after former Navy SEAL Commander Hannon, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving our nation honorably for more than 23 years. He actively helped other veterans with war-related physical and mental trauma, but who regrettably died from suicide in 2018. VA will implement the types of programs that improved Commander Hannon's life, including:
• Bolstering VA's mental health workforce to serve more veterans by giving VA direct hiring authority for more mental health professions, offering scholarships to mental health professionals to work at Vet Centers, and placing at least one Suicide Prevention Coordinator in every VA hospital;
• Improving rural veterans' access to mental healthcare by increasing the number of locations at which veterans can access VA telehealth services and offering grants to non-VA organizations that provide mental health services or alternative treatment to veterans;
• Studying and investing in innovative treatment options by expanding veterans' access to alternative programs and investing in VA research on veterans' suicide risk and identifying and treating mental illness;
• Holding VA accountable for its mental healthcare and suicide prevention efforts by examining how VA manages its suicide prevention resources and how VA provides seamless care and information sharing for veterans seeking mental healthcare from both VA and community providers; and
• Establishing a grant program that requires VA to better collaborate with community organizations across the country already serving veterans. This collaboration will result in earlier identification of veterans who are at risk of suicide and will provide the ability to intervene with preventive services.

National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020
S. 2661, P.L. 116-172 Oct. 17, 2020.
The law designates 9-8-8 as 3 the digit number to be used as the National Suicide Hotline number by 2022, and requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.

A state may impose and collect a fee for providing 9-8-8 related services. However, this fee must be held in a designated account to be spent only in support of 9-8-8 services, and the FCC must submit an annual report on state administration of these fees.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs must jointly report on how to make the use of 9-8-8 operational and effective across the country, and HHS must develop a strategy to provide access to competent, specialized services for high-risk populations.

Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living (COLA) Adjustment Act of 2020
H.R. 6168, P.L. 116-178 Oct. 20, 2020.
This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase, as of December 1, 2020, the rates of veterans' disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The percentage increase in benefits shall be the same 1.3 percent as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients.

Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act
H.R. 1812, P.L. 116-176 Oct. 20, 2020.
This law expands the eligibility to receive counseling from VA Vet Centers to members of the National Guard and Reserves or Coast Guard who served during emergency situations in the wake of a national emergency, major disaster, civil disorder, or drug interdiction operation.

If you have questions or seek more information on the four laws please contact legislativeinfo@trea.org.

 

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