Thursday, April 25, 2013

Conyers Co-Sponsors Legislation Boosting Mental Health Access to Veterans

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) co-sponsored the bipartisan “Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act,” introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa). Currently, veterans face a five-year window in which they must seek treatment for mental illnesses before losing their higher priority status.  This legislation would eliminate that five-year waiting period and allow veterans to seek treatment for mental illnesses stemming from service, regardless of when their conditions arise. Following his co-sponsorship of the bill, Rep. Conyers issued this statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“It is an appalling figure, yet unfortunately 22 veterans commit suicide every single day. Sixty years after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was established, it is time for Congress to renew its commitment to providing the men and women who served our nation - from Detroit and all across the country - with the healthcare services they earned," said Conyers.

“Currently the VA provides healthcare treatment and services to veterans who suffer from service-related mental or physical disabilities. Typically, the diagnosis of physical injuries is made before or shortly after separation from the military. However, mental illnesses may not arise until years later. In addition, some serious mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder were virtually undiagnosed in veterans of conflicts prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As the United States armed forces and the VA continue to improve treatment for those who served, there remains a gap for veterans struggling with mental illnesses. Fortunately, the ‘Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act’ will go a long way towards ensuring that the services and treatments relating to mental health that are available to recently discharged veterans are also made available to all who served.”

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