House Passes Malinowski’s Bipartisan VA Serious Mental Illness Act

September 25, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, DC) This week, the House passed S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which includes key provisions of a bill led by Representative Tom Malinowski that supports the mental and psychological health of our nation’s hundreds of thousands of veterans that have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness (SMI).

The VA Serious Mental Illness Act would require the VA to establish a working group to review how the VA and its practitioners address mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. It would also require the development and implementation of new clinical guidelines for the treatment of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, persistent mood disorder, and other relevant serious disorders.

“Our nation’s veterans carry invisible mental wounds and burdens years after they’ve laid down the uniform,” said Representative Malinowski. “This legislation will push the VA to ensure that best practices for treatment are shared across its medical facilities. I am grateful that my colleagues in the House have moved this life-saving legislation forward.”

The 7th district of New Jersey is home to over 30,000 veterans, many of whom depend on the VA’s healthcare and mental health programs. Some 60-70 veterans commit suicide in New Jersey per year. In addition to the VA Serious Mental Illness Act, Representative Malinowski has supported other major reforms, such as the Veterans' ACCESS Act of 2020, which would ensure that veterans are never charged for medical care involving mental health emergencies. Rep. Malinowski is also supporting other efforts by Congress to aggressively seek out creative approaches to tackle this crisis, from stronger funding for service dogs and equine therapy, to peer mentoring programs and community-led initiatives.

The legislation has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Modern Military Association of America, Minority Veterans of America, and the American Psychiatric Association.