Comprehensive Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Package Championed by Rep. Lee Signed Into Law
Washington, D.C. – The Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, And Treatment Act of 2020, or Veterans COMPACT Act, was signed into law by President Trump on Saturday, Dec. 5. The Veterans COMPACT Act is a comprehensive, bipartisan set of policies that improves veterans’ suicide prevention, mental health care, and outreach within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The Veterans COMPACT Act includes Rep. Lee's legislation, the Leave No Veteran Behind Act, which requires that the VA contact veterans who have not had contact with VA in two or more years to encourage them to receive comprehensive exams so that they continue their eligibility for coverage of emergency care not related to service-connected disabilities.
“Every day in this country, 20 veterans die by suicide, and the rate is even worse in Nevada,” said Rep. Lee. “Even one death per day is too many. Veterans need a health care system centered around their unique mental and physical health needs, which is what the Veterans COMPACT Act does. Of those 20 veterans, 14 of them did not seek medical treatment from the VA in over two years. My provision in the Veterans OMPACT Act improves outreach and treatment, so we can bring those lost or forgotten veterans back to the VA system to get the treatment they need before it’s too late. Veterans dealing with PTSD and other mental health issues need to know that they are not in this alone, and there are medical, mental-health, and support services available to them that can help. I am always motivated to bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass laws that can really make a difference, and I know that is what we accomplished today by enacting the Veterans COMPACT Act.”
BACKGROUND: The following are provisions included in the Veterans COMPACT Act:
- Comprehensive Exams for Veterans - The law requires that the VA contact veterans who have not had contact with VA in two or more years to encourage them to receive comprehensive exams so that they continue their eligibility for coverage of emergency care not related to service-connected disabilities. Rep. Lee authored this provision, which she first introduced as the Leave No Veteran Behind Act.
- Care for those in crisis - The law provides acute crisis care for emergent suicide symptoms (ACCESS Act).
- Help veterans build networks of support - The law creates a pilot program on information sharing between Department of Veterans Affairs and designated relatives and friends of veterans regarding the assistance and benefits available to the veterans.
- Track outcomes of VA’s outreach to transitioning servicemembers- The law requires an annual report on the Solid Start program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Tailored education for family members - The law creates an education program for family members and caregivers of veterans with mental health disorders.
- Outdoor Recreation Task Force - The law establishes an Interagency Task Force on Outdoor Recreation for veterans.
- Require annual VA Police de-escalation and crisis intervention training.
- Analysis to meet needs of homeless women veterans - The law requires a gap analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs programs that provide assistance to women veterans who are homeless.
- Women Veteran Usage Report – The law provides a report on locations where women veterans are using health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.