Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) says recent police attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge involving gunmen with military backgrounds demonstrate that soldiers and veterans need increased access to mental health services. He’s touting a bill he co-sponsored, the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which has been passed by Congress.
“We’ve seen the Congress in the last few years, trying to force the Veterans Administration to just be more responsive but also just to be one of the competitors for the kind of help that our veterans need,” says Blunt. “I think there are many better ways to provide the kind of help and benefits that veterans need than the VA is willing to provide or maybe even able to provide.”
The measure includes increasing help for those battling addiction and peer and family support and creating 24-hour crisis care.
“The young veteran organizations, along with mental health advocates and police, were among the greatest advocates for wanting more choices and places to go,” says Blunt.
The legislation also calls for expanding the integration of physical and behavioral health care; a community continuum that prevents re-admissions, trauma, and disruptions to home, school and work. Through outcome monitoring, clinics would be held accountable for measuring patients’ progress and adjusting course when treatments aren’t working as hoped.
A Kansas City man killed three officers and injured three others on Sunday in Baton Rouge. Gavin Long, 29, was then shot and killed by police. Long spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps before being discharged in 2010 at the rank of sergeant for an undisclosed reason.
Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Texas killed five police officers earlier this month in Dallas. Johnson was a military veteran who served in Afghanistan.