Press Releases

Rep. Scott Peters Intros Two Bills to Support Vets Access to Mental Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Late yesterday, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) re-introduced two pieces of legislation to help veterans struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress and other forms of mental illness after they’ve served our nation.

The first would continue the effort to break down barriers to discussing mental health issues by designating the first week of May each year as “National Health No Stigma Week.” The second is bipartisan and would make it easier for California-licensed marriage and family therapists to work in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers.

“These bills are about getting American veterans access to the care they have earned and deserve, and to provide veterans and their families with the tools necessary to overcome the unseen battle scars,” Rep. Peters said. “As a society we are losing too many friends and family members to mental health issues in part because of the negative stigma we’ve attached to the topic, a pain being felt particularly hard in our veterans’ community.”

Background on the Legislation:

  • “National Mental Health No Stigma Week” Resolution
    • Would designate the first week of May each year a ‘no stigma’ week to raise awareness about mental health, and to help break down the barriers to discussing the topic
    • Mental illness hurts a broad spectrum of people:
      • Children: 13% of children between ages 8-15, and 20% of all teenagers face mental health issues
      • Adults (approximately 1 million adult suicide attempts each year),
      • Veterans (average more than 20 suicides per day)
  • “Marriage and Family Therapists for Veterans Act”
    • Adjusts eligibility requirements to allow the VA to consider the applications of marriage and family therapists certified by regionally accredited programs
    • Currently 95% of California’s marriage and family therapists are not able to work at VA medical centers
    • Marriage and family therapists are a key component of helping servicemembers and veterans re-enter civilian life, particularly after time in combat zones