Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) applauded the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passage of the American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Mental Health Act (H.R. 912), legislation she authored to address the mental health needs of Native veterans. Specifically, this legislation would mandate that every VA medical facility have a minority veteran coordinator and that every minority veteran coordinator is trained in the delivery of culturally competent mental health care for Native veterans.
“It is long past time that VA provide culturally competent healthcare services for Native veterans. That is why I am proud that my bill is now moving out of committee and to the full House for consideration,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “As Chairwoman of the Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Health, I remain committed to making sure that all veterans have their healthcare needs met by VA. Our nation’s veterans deserve nothing less. For hundreds of years, Native Americans have fought to defend our nation. We have a duty to provide them with the mental health care and suicide prevention services they need as a part of the holistic care that Native veterans receive from VA.”
The bill requires each facility’s minority veteran coordinator to work with the facility’s suicide prevention coordinator to contact local tribal leadership, to provide the VA medical facility director with an annual written plan for specific outreach to Native veterans, and to document the mental health care provided. It also requires VA to collect and provide data on the minority status, tribal enrollment, and second language capacity of VA mental health care providers. Additionally, the bill would give VA the authority it needs to include tribes in its successful, evidence-based Governors Challenge Program to prevent veteran suicide.
Read the text of the bill, here.