WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran, and Doug Jones (D-AL) in introducing bipartisan legislation to help improve mental wellness for veterans. The Senators’ bipartisan bill would designate one week per year as “Buddy Check Week” to organize outreach events and educate veterans on how to conduct peer wellness checks.
“Teaching veterans how to conduct peer wellness checks is a simple and effective way to improve mental health and help prevent veteran suicide,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan legislation will help strengthen the support that veterans need and have earned, and I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this commonsense bill into law.”
The bipartisan bill would designate one week per year as “Buddy Check Week” to organize outreach events and educate veterans on how to conduct peer wellness checks and recognize signs of suicide risk among fellow veterans. The bill is modeled after the American Legion’s “Buddy Check National Week of Calling” to connect veterans to better ensure that they receive the care they need.
Specifically, the bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), in consultation with veterans, non-profits that serve veterans, mental health experts, and members of the Armed Forces, to develop and implement collaborative education opportunities for veterans to learn how to conduct wellness checks.
Senator Hassan is working to support veterans and ensure that they have access to high-quality health care. The Senator cosponsored bipartisan legislation, which recently passed the House and is now on its way to the President’s desk, to improve veterans’ access to mental health care in New Hampshire and across the country. Senator Hassan also urged the VA to strengthen New Hampshire veterans’ access to telehealth amid this unprecedented pandemic. Additionally, the CARES Act that Senator Hassan worked to pass into law included $2.15 billion in funding to the VA to enhance its ability to provide telehealth services to veterans. The Senator also led the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in reiterating their concerns over a change in policy at the VA that limits veterans’ ability to access non-drug related therapies, such as muscle massage services and acupuncture, which can help veterans experiencing chronic pain.