Despite making up less than one percent of the U.S. population, veterans, active duty, and reservist military members make up fourteen percent of total suicides. About thirty-one percent of VA benefits claims are denied, sixty-percent of denials are found to be erogenous. In a world where roughly 23% of veterans suffer from PTSD and many of which are unable to get help from the VA, my bill hopes to alleviate some of the pressure from the shoulders of veterans by creating an “ill before proven treated” system in which any veteran claiming to be suffering from mental health issues will be taken in regardless of whether it is service-related or not.
Prior to having aspirations of joining the United States corps of officers, I remember watching a video discussing the idea that many civilians who are apprehended before they can follow through suicide attempts are not enrolled within any counseling or taken into custody until stable as resources are simply too limited. Now, with the intent on joining the military, I paid especially close attention to the denied VA disability claim statistics and veteran suicide rates. In recent years, mental health has become more pertinent an issue than ever. Military veterans, making up such a small percent of the population, are often overlooked as the focus is directed towards workplace stress, teenage mental health, etc.
I believe the Public Health Committee will oversee this bill as it is addressing the mental health and welfare of veterans.
MARCH 3, 2021
SENATOR GUO OF LOOMIS CHAFFEE INTRODUCED THE FOLLOWING BILL.
VETERANS’ MENTAL AND PHYSICAL INJURIES
A bill to create an “ill before proven treated” system for veterans claiming to suffer from mental health issues, regardless of whether they are service related.
Whereas veterans are suffering from depression and anxiety without proper care.
Whereas veterans seeking help are turned down by the VA.
Whereas current and prior service members can rebuild trust within the VA and its abilities to take care of them.
Whereas the VA committee provides more equitable treatment to all service members.
Section 1: Definitions.
Veterans - Prior service members who have been honorably discharged from one of the six service branches, Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, Space Force, Coast Guard.
Connecticut VA - refers to Veteran Affair committee within the state of Connecticut.
VA - refers to the United States Veterans Affairs committee.
Section 2: Provisions.
Veterans with mental health issues will be able to follow a “afflicted until proven treated” where clinics have no right to claim that veterans are not mentally ill. Under this bill, veterans claiming mental health issues and seeking help from the VA will be instantly approved for specialized care. Currently there are around eighteen million veterans within the United States. The United States has allocated a budget of 10.2 billion dollars to dealing with the mental health of veterans in 2021. Under this bill, the VA must pledge at a minimum of one-million dollars to therapy related services for each veteran claiming mental disabilities (around 1.5% of the VA’s annual mental health budget assuming all eighteen million veterans seek therapy). This bill will not directly give one-million dollars to the veterans, it will oversee the treatment of veterans that equates to one million dollars.
Connecticut has roughly 500,000 veterans. Under the condition that one-million dollars per veteran encapsulates more than 2% of Connecticut's annual Veteran Affair budget, the state can take the equivalent of 2% of its annual veteran affair budget, distribute it between all the veterans within the state, and set that as the amount pledged to each individual. For states that can not pledge one-million dollars to the treatment of each veteran, they can pledge the equivalent of 2% of the annual budget distributed evenly between the veteran population, but no less than 500,000 dollars per veteran.
Section 3: Enforcement and Punishment.
This bill will create a route through which veterans can sue the VA for wrongfully denying them the mental health benefits that they need. If the pledged one-million dollars is wrongfully spent i.e. given directly to the veteran in need, then the VA has the right to deny further help to that veteran despite injury claims whether mental or physical, service-related or not.
Section 4: Enactment.
This bill will go into effect in the beginning of 2022 as the Connecticut veteran affairs committee and United States veteran affairs committee begins to draft up budgets for the next year.
After passing the bill, all veterans will be notified of their right to seek undisputed mental health treatment from the VA.
About the Author
Student Senator Guo
High School, Loomis Chaffee