Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA) Introduce the Veteran Wellness Act
Washington, DC -- Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA) introduced the Veteran Wellness Act of 2017 today. This legislation would bring mental healthcare to our Veterans by establishing a two-year grant program to provide integrative wellness programs at Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). More than 16 percent of Veterans have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder. Up to 43 percent struggle with symptoms of mental health issues, such as drinking excessively, smoking, and/or sleeplessness. These struggles have resulted in an unacceptably high rate of Veterans suicide. Every day 20 Veterans take their lives according to 2014 VA data – almost double the rate of non-Veterans.
“The brave men and women of our armed forces answered the call to service to defend our freedoms at home and abroad. Now that they’re home, it is time for Congress to answer ours and do whatever we must to get veterans suffering from depression and other mental health issues the help they require to lead successful, happy lives,” Rep. Ryan said. “This grant funding will support integrative wellness programs, including yoga and meditation, which help tackle anxiety, and ease PTSD symptoms. I am pleased to see these programs, which have helped so many, becoming more and more available to those in need.”
“Veteran Service Organizations provide critical resources to service members who are transitioning to civilian life,” Rep. Thompson said. “The Veteran Wellness Act will build upon the existing transitional services made available and offer more options for veterans to access wellness programs and therapies. These additional incentives will encourage veterans, especially those who served after 9/11, to become more involved in veterans organizations and surround themselves with supportive communities. I am pleased to again introduce this bill with Rep. Ryan during Veterans Mental Health Awareness Month. To serve one’s country is a selfless act. That is why it is so important to ensure there are appropriate services for our men and women in uniform when they return home because they deserve no less.”
The need for assistance is clear. In Post 9/11 Veterans, up to 22 percent have depressive disorders. The age-adjusted rate of suicide by Veterans has increased by more than 30 percent and among female Veterans it has increased 85.2 percent. By virtue of their various locations in every state, territory, and region in our country, VSOs are uniquely equipped to help veterans wherever they are.
The bill would also provide funding for:
- Repair or renovation of facilities to create or improve a wellness center.
- Complementary and integrative medicine and wellness programs.
- Childcare for classes.
Priority will be given to VSOs applying for this program that are in rural or impoverished areas.