Brindisi: We must ensure the VA has the tools it needs to serve every veteran that walks through the door

The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health today considered legislation introduced by Congressman Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) to help improve suicide prevention and mental health resources at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Brindisi introduced the Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act (H.R. 2333) with Congressmen Jim Banks (IN-03) and Mike Bost (IL-12). The bipartisan bill requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct an assessment of the responsibilities, workload, and vacancy rates of the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Coordinators.

Suicide Prevention Coordinators are the face of the VA’s efforts to combat veteran suicide. They identify high-risk veterans and ensure they receive appropriate care, conduct outreach, and promote awareness and suicide prevention best practices within VA, among other responsibilities. Many Suicide Prevention Coordinators report being overworked and unable to keep up with their many responsibilities. The Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act would help ensure these men and women have the tools and resources they need to provide veterans with critical mental health resources.

Brindisi’s bill will be considered in a Health Subcommittee markup before moving to the full Veterans’ Affairs Committee for consideration.

Brindisi’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Thank you, Madam Chair Brownley and Ranking Member Dunn, for the opportunity to testify today and for the subcommittee’s attention to the critically important issue of veteran suicide.

To truly address this issue, we need to make sure that the VA has the tools it needs to serve every veteran that walks through the door.

Suicide Prevention Coordinators are the face of the VA’s efforts to address veteran suicide.

They identify high-risk veterans and ensure they receive appropriate care, conduct outreach, and promote awareness and suicide prevention best practices within VA, among other responsibilities.

Many Suicide Prevention Coordinators report being overworked and unable to keep up with their many responsibilities.

In order to address the troubling uptick in veteran suicides and help improve suicide prevention and mental health resources at the at VA, I introduced a bipartisan bill, H.R. 2333, the Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act, with Congressman Banks and Congressman Bost.

The Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act would help ensure prevention coordinators have the resources they need to effectively do their job of providing veterans with critical mental health resources in order to prevent future veteran suicides.

Specifically, this bill would require the Comptroller General to conduct an assessment of the responsibilities, workload, and vacancy rates of the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Coordinators and submit it to Congress within one year.

It’s critically important that we are providing our Suicide Prevention Coordinators with the resources they need to successfully combat the troubling trend of veteran suicide, and I believe this bill is a good step toward making sure that happens.

Again, thank you for the opportunity today to discuss solutions to address veteran suicide and I look forward to working with you to advance this bill to the Full Committee, and eventually to the House floor.

Thank you for your consideration, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

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