LAMB INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN BILLS TO INCREASE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR VETERAN SUICIDE PREVENTION
(WASHINGTON, DC) – This week, Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17), Vice Chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced three bipartisan bills to increase veterans’ access to integrative health care and mental health services to improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention efforts. Lamb was joined by Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) to introduce the Testing, Researching, and Expanding Alternative Treatments (TREAT) Act; Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) to introduce the VA Precision Medicine Act; and Representative Jim Banks (IN-03) to introduce the VA Data Analytics and Technology Assistance (DATA) Act.
“We must do more to combat the veteran suicide crisis. Congress needs to give the VA every tool possible to meet the mental health challenges facing our veterans before they get to the point of danger,” said Lamb. “This work is critical, and it is bipartisan, because we all know that one more veteran lost to suicide is one too many.”
“It is imperative that our nation’s veterans receive access to the highest quality medical testing and holistic treatment options, including for mental health,” said Fitzpatrick. “Building upon my partnership with Rep. Lamb on the Whole Veteran Act, our bipartisan TREAT Act will provide our veterans with integrative health options for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. I am proud to work with my friend Rep. Lamb on improving our veterans’ access to the care that they deserve.”
“We continue to lose 20 servicemembers to suicide a day. That number has not changed in years, which means we need to find new ways to address this crisis,” said Bost. “Modern medicine and scientific research have made it possible to identify patients who are at a higher risk of developing cancer, dementia, or even depression. This important legislation would require the VA to implement these medical advances in order to better identify veterans who may be more likely to develop depression or PTSD. If we can get these veterans care sooner, then the less likely they are to become another one of the 20.”
"The Subcommittee on Technology Modernization and VA leadership have been working hard to streamline veterans’ electronic health records,” said Banks. “Our legislation allows VA to leverage that capability to improve veterans’ quality of care. I’m proud to work with Congressman Lamb on this bipartisan and impactful initiative."
The TREAT Act requires the VA to establish a two-year program to provide complementary and integrative health services for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. The bill also requires a study on providing integrative health treatments such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic care and other treatments that help with mental or physical health conditions.
Identifying biomarkers for serious mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), could dramatically aid in tailoring individual treatment. The VA has a world-class research enterprise focused on the health and well-being of veterans, and the VA Precision Medicine Act calls on the VA to develop and implement the “Precision Medicine Initiative for Veterans” to identify and validate brain and mental health biomarkers among veterans, with specific consideration for depression, anxiety, PTSD, TBI and bipolar disorder. The bill also requires that the VA develop robust data privacy and security measures to ensure information of veterans participating in the initiative is kept private and secure.
The DATA Act expands the VA’s ability to further contract and work with outside academic and research entities to conduct analyses and evaluation of the vast amounts of data it collects through its electronic health records and research program.
Click below for more information on each bill:
- Testing, Researching, and Expanding Alternative Treatments (TREAT) Act
- VA Precision Medicine Act
- VA Data Analytics and Technology Assistance (DATA) Act