Kuster: Men and Women Who Have Served Our Nation in Uniform Cannot be Cast Aside
Kuster Applauds Announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs that it will offer mental health services to veterans with other-than-honorable administrative discharges
Kuster helped introduce the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act to extend access to mental health services
(Washington, DC) –Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, welcomed the announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that it would expand access to urgent mental health care services for veterans with other-than-honorable administrative discharges.
“The men and women who have served our nation in uniform cannot be cast aside once they have returned home,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Denying veterans with other-than-honorable discharges mental health services is a grave disservice and we cannot allow it to continue. The suicide rate among veterans is a tragedy and it’s long past time we came together to address this challenge. I look forward to working with Secretary Shulkin and my colleagues on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to implement this policy and reduce veteran suicide.”
“The president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one of our top priorities," Secretary Shulkin said in a statement. “We know the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.”
Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong supporter of efforts to prevent veteran suicide. She co-sponsored and supported the Clay Hunt Act, which was signed into law in 2015, and provides oversight at the DOD and VA to help ensure all veterans can access the comprehensive mental health services they need. The Clay Hunt Act, unfortunately, did not extend mental health services to veterans with other-than-honorable administrative discharges, which is why Kuster helped introduced the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act. This legislation would direct the VA to establish a program to provide mental health services to veterans who were discharged or released under a condition less than honorable.