United Spinal's VetsFirst Supports Final Passage Of Key Mental Health Provisions

Dec 14, 2012, 10:26 ET from United Spinal Association

NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association's program VetsFirst, today announced its support for passage and implementation of key components of the Mental Health Access to Continued Care and Enhancement of Support Services Act.

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The components are included in the Senate passed version of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The key provisions are designed to help service members and veterans who need access to high-quality mental health services due in part to post-traumatic stress disorder and other wounds of war.

The mental health care provisions of the NDAA have been championed by Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and provide in part:

  • A requirement for the VA to conduct a national program of outreach to connect with community mental health resources and organize clinicians who meet VA requirements to expand capacity.
  • A requirement for VA to be transparent in the development of staffing guidelines and measures reflecting access to mental health care that will help to facilitate accountability.
  • The requirement to increase the availability of peer support counseling services that will provide another important avenue often critical to helping individuals seek more formal mental health care services.

Earlier this year, VetsFirst testified in support of the mental health provisions now included in the NDAA.

"These and the other mental health care provisions included in the NDAA are critical to increasing access for our nation's service members, veterans and their families," said Heather Ansley, Esq., MSW, and Vice President of Veterans Policy for VetsFirst.

"Our nation must make every effort to quickly and effectively take action now to ensure that barriers to accessing mental health care are removed once and for all," she added.

About VetsFirst

VetsFirst represents the culmination of 60 years of service to veterans and their families. United Spinal Association, through its veterans service program, VetsFirst, provides representation for veterans, their dependents and survivors in their pursuit of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and health care before VA and in the federal courts.

About United Spinal Association

United Spinal is a national 501(c) (3) nonprofit membership organization formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS and post-polio. It played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, and made important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Membership is free and is open to all individuals with SCI/D. United Spinal was instrumental in getting New York City to create sidewalk curb ramps and accessible public transportation that has been used as a model for many United States cities.

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Heather L. Ansley

SOURCE United Spinal Association