WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, thanked the Committee members for ordering in a markup today S. 2162, the "Mental Health Improvements Act of 2007" reported to the full Senate. Introduced by Senator Akaka, the bill is a direct outcome of a hearing on mental health care that the Committee held on April 25th. The Mental Health Improvements Act would address the immediate needs of veterans by ensuring high quality mental health services at VA facilities and in their communities.
"Now more than ever, VA must make veterans' mental health a priority. I thank my colleagues in the Committee for moving this legislation forward," said Senator Akaka.
Upon reviewing the Mental Health Improvements Act, Tony and Mary Kaye Bailey, who testified before the Committee on the tragic loss of their son Justin after he returned from service, wrote the following to Senator Akaka: "We strongly believe that had this legislation been in effect a year ago, Justin would still be with us."
Senator Akaka also stated today: "The Mental Health Improvements Act provides new resources and outlines new strategies for responding to pressing mental health issues like substance use disorder and PTSD, and improves readjustment services offered by VA. This bill will make VA more capable of addressing the invisible wounds of war faced by service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, it will strengthen VA support for veterans of previous wars who deserve better solutions for their long-term mental health challenges."
S. 2162 will now move to the full Senate for consideration.
The Committee also approved the following bills: S. 2160, the Veterans Pain Care Act of 2007; S. 2142, the Veterans Emergency Care Fairness Act (Committee Print); and S. 2004, the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence Act.