NH and National Veterans Leaders Applaud Senator Hassan’s New Law
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) to strengthen the Solid Start program. The Solid Start program was created by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) during the previous administration to contact every veteran three times by phone in the first year after they leave active duty service to check in and help connect them to VA programs and benefits.
“America’s veterans bravely answered the call to serve their fellow citizens, but too many return home and are unaware of the VA services and support that can help ease their transition to civilian life,” said Senator Hassan. “Our bipartisan Solid Start Act will ensure that the VA reaches out to veterans proactively – helping connect them to vital tools and resources. This bipartisan bill becoming law is a win for veterans, and helps meet our commitment to ensuring that those who bravely served have the support that they have earned. Granite State veterans have raised with me the importance of strengthening support for new veterans – and their advocacy was essential in helping make this law possible.”
“The Solid Start program was created by the Trump Administration to help veterans transition to civilian life, and I’m glad to see it being signed into law. Making sure the brave servicemen and women have access to the benefits, healthcare, and other resources they earned is a crucial part of my role on the Veterans Affairs Committee. The Solid Start program better supports our veterans ensuring they have access to the services they need,” said Senator Cramer.
“The transition to civilian life is not always easy. Getting this bill signed into law is one more step towards giving veterans the support they need to ensure they receive the benefits they earned,” said Dr. Cassidy.
New Hampshire and national veterans leaders applauded the legislation.
“Transitioning from military to civilian life can be extremely stressful for new veterans. Any period of uncertainty elevates the risk of suicide. This is why The American Legion has previously testified in support of the Solid Start Act which would make permanent the Solid Start Program which requires VA to call veterans at least three times within the first year of separation to provide them with vital information on VA medical care and benefits eligibility. We are pleased to see it become law. The American Legion is incredibly grateful for Senator Hassan’s and Rep. Slotkin’s diligent work on behalf of the veteran community,” said American Legion National Commander Vincent J. Troiola.
“Connecting veterans to their benefits enables the growth of protective factors against death by suicide. As veterans are particularly vulnerable to suicide within the year following military discharge, concerted efforts to make these connections are invaluable. The VFW strongly believes the Department of Veterans Affairs Solid Start Program should be made permanent, as this program facilitates three distinct touchpoints with each veteran as they settle into civilian life and gain a better understanding of their needs and goals. We commend Senators Hassan, Cramer, and Cassidy for their bipartisan leadership on this issue,” said Brittany Dymond, Associate Director, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Service.
“The American Legion supports any legislation that eases the difficult transition many veterans face when returning to civilian society. Peer support works in the effort to stop veteran suicide. Moreover, VA must be responsive and accommodating to our women veterans, who are just as devoted to this country as their male counterparts. Our nation owes all transitioning veterans a ‘solid start,’ just as this legislation is aptly named, and we are grateful to Senator Hassan and her colleagues for getting this bill passed into law,” said New Hampshire American Legion Commander Charles A. Arkwell Jr.
“The Department of New Hampshire VFW is pleased that the Bipartisan Solid Start legislation just became law. It is essential that our Veterans transitioning have the required knowledge to access their VA benefits in a timely manner. We also applaud the provisions to tailor this information for the increasing number of Women Veterans so their specific healthcare needs can be met in a timely manner,” said Leon H. Rideout, Department Commander, NH Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The bipartisan Solid Start Act would codify the Solid Start program that the previous administration started – thus ensuring that the program continues – and make improvements such as providing women veterans with information that is tailored to their specific health care and benefit needs – a priority that women veterans from New Hampshire raised with Senator Hassan during a roundtable last year.
This law is part of ongoing efforts from Senator Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to strengthen support for veterans. For example, this summer, the President signed into law Senator Hassan and colleagues’ historic, bipartisan military toxic exposure bill. The President also signed into law Senator Hassan and colleagues’ Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021 to direct the VA to create a program to recruit military medical personnel who have less than one year left in their service to work in federal health care occupations at the VA.