WAASHINGTON D.C. — Representatives Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-07), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) introduced bipartisan legislation that would expand access to Vet Center mental health counseling for veterans and their families across the country.
The Vet CENTERS for Mental Health Act uses 2020 census data and the VA’s own statistical data to ensure underserved areas, including portions of Northwestern New Jersey, are eligible for additional Vet Centers.
“Mental health services are among the most crucial programs needed by our veterans, and the consequences can be dire if help is too far out of reach. Northern Jersey veterans need to know that when they come home, quality care is close to home. This bill would eliminate the long, sometimes impossible travel to professional facilities and allow for more of our veterans to access the benefits they earned and deserve,” Kean, Jr. said.
“Vet Centers play a critical role in supporting our veterans and their families and ensuring they receive access to affordable and potentially lifesaving care. However, not all veterans have access to Vet Centers because of their geographic location in New Jersey and across the country. This bipartisan legislation reduces gaps in VA mental health coverage and provides veterans with the support they need and deserve. As a Navy veteran, I remain steadfast in my commitment to fixing this wrong and fulfilling our country’s obligation to America’s heroes,” Sherrill said.
“It is critical that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides our nation’s veterans the highest-quality care, including mental health services. Bipartisan legislation will direct the VA to increase Vet Centers that provide mental health services in order to expand access to our heroic veterans,” Fitzpatrick said.
Vet Centers provide a range of services to veterans and their families, including mental health counseling to combat veterans and those who suffered military sexual assault as well as bereavement services to families of servicemembers who die on duty. Vet Centers’ practice of providing services to families in addition to the affected veterans is also unique in the VA veteran care space.