Last week, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., a member of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, championed a proposal to “ensure veterans receive the highest quality care possible from private providers.”
Bilirakis is the main co-sponsor of U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester’s, D-Del., “Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act” which “will require that veterans receive culturally competent, evidence-based mental health treatment from private providers, as is already required of VA mental health providers.”
Backers of the proposal, which also include U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., insist the bill will help reduce the number of veterans committing suicide.
“As the suicide rate of our nation’s veterans continues to worsen, more must be done to provide them with quality mental health care. The need for quality care is most acute with private providers in two key areas: cultural competency and evidence-based treatment,” Bilirakis’ office noted.
“The staggering suicide rate that continues to plague the veteran community is much higher than the rates found in the general population. This problem is indicative of the fact that we are not doing enough to recognize the warning signs of those who may be at risk and providing effective interventions needed to prevent this tragic outcome. It is imperative that both those within the VA and out in the community are properly trained on veteran-specific mental health issues and that they all develop a better understanding of how to treat those from a military culture. I’m glad to join forces in this bipartisan initiative to ensure our heroes get the help they need,” said Bilirakis.
“Suicide amongst our veterans is and has been a public health crisis in this country. The suicide rate is unconscionably high, and we know that the only way to reduce it is by providing our veterans with the best mental health care possible. After serving our country bravely, the least we can do for these women and men is provide them with clinically effective mental health treatment that respects the military experience,” said Blunt Rochester. “I heard from veterans across Delaware about the importance of access to high-quality mental health care, which is why I’m proud to introduce the Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act, which will require training to better allow private providers to understand veterans and their experiences. Providing quality health care to our veterans is upholding our end of the bargain, and the Veterans’ Culturally Competent Care Act will help us do just that.”
The bill was sent to the House Veterans Affairs Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.
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