WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07) today announced the introduction of his legislation to expand Vet Center eligibility for counseling and related mental health services to families of servicemembers or veterans of the Armed Forces who died by suicide.
Congressman Rouzer introduced H.R. 5029 - Expanding the Families of Veterans Access to Mental Health Services Act after hearing from a constituent whose veteran spouse tragically died by suicide. The constituent faced complications when trying to receive critical mental health support for themselves while remaining the sole caregiver for their children.
Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) will join Congressman Rouzer and introduce the Expanding the Families of Veterans Access to Mental Health Services Act in the U.S. Senate.
“Grief can be extremely isolating, and the families of servicemembers and veterans who have died by suicide should not have to worry about enduring the difficult journey alone,” said Congressman Rouzer. “I am proud to introduce this important bill on behalf of our military families who have lost a loved one to suicide. Passage of this bill would mean that these families can receive the critical mental health services they need to help guide them through their recovery. Congress must ensure that these military families have access to the care and help they deserve.”
“It’s a heartbreaking tragedy, particularly for families, when a veteran or servicemember takes his or her life,” said Senator Tillis. “These families sacrifice so much, and they deserve to be cared for in a time of need. This legislation ensures loved ones of our servicemembers and veterans who died by suicide have access to mental health treatments during that painful time by expanding vet center eligibility to the families. No one should have to walk alone in their grief, and I am proud to join Congressman Rouzer by introducing this legislation in the Senate. I will continue to work to make sure our brave men and women in uniform, and their families, are always taken care of.”
“I thank my friend, Rep. Rouzer, for introducing this vitally important bill today to expand Vet Center eligibility to veteran families who have lost their loved one to suicide,” said Ranking Member Mike Bost. “Veteran families struggling with loss should have easy access to the support they need. Rep. Rouzer’s bill would extend a comforting hand to do exactly that.”
"Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) families who are grieving a loved one who has died by suicide often cope with symptoms of trauma and complicated grief, and can be at increased risk due to the traumatic nature of their loss," said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS Founder and President. "Expanding the eligibility for Vet Center usage for survivors of suicide loss can help stabilize issues of concern, decrease risk, and set them on a journey toward healing. TAPS is grateful to Representative Rouzer for introducing this critical legislation."
The Expanding the Families of Veterans Access to Mental Health Services Act will:
- Allow families of members or veterans of the Armed Forces who died by suicide to receive mental health treatment at Vet Centers.
- Retroactively cover families of veterans who had previously died by suicide before enactment of this legislation.