WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A bi-partisan group of lawmakers unveiled a plan today designed to reduce suicides and provide mental health help for our nation’s veterans.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-OH, announced a proposal for a 2-year pilot program designed to give more than 100 veterans across the country access to drug-free treatment options.
“The existing efforts that our government has tried…those efforts have not been working,“ Ryan said.
Ryan was joined at today’s announcement by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-PA, and Rep. Steve Watkins, R-KS.
Currently, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs reports an average of 20 veteran suicides each day. Noting the seriousness of the statistics, lawmakers want $3 million as part of the Veterans Posttraumatic Growth Act to treat as many as 150 vets.
“I’m proud to work with my colleagues on combating the prevalence of PTSD and mental illness among our nation’s veterans. Through this legislation, we can ensure that lowering the high veteran suicide rate remains a top priority for our country,” said Congressman Reschenthaler via a news release.
The bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot program to study the effectiveness and benefits of non-profit post traumatic growth programs. The pilot would include the integration of non-profit programs into mental health care for veterans.
Navy combat veteran Ken Falke is the founder of Boulder Crest. His group offers veterans free, week-long retreats. Falke feels federal funding would extend the reach of his privately funded organization.
“We’re at the tip of the spear it’s about time that we have access to these types of programs so that we can lead ourselves back into the light,“ noted Falke.
The Trump administration has promises billions of dollars to help veterans struggling with PTSD. Lawmakers hope the pilot program proposal can win over the White House.
If the proposal moves forward, the VA would research the outcomes alongside each non-profit partner. They’re hopeful positive results would result in permanent funding.