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Congress Passes Bowman Amendment to Support Veteran Mental Health


Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) addresses the crowd at the Edenwald YMCA Center in the Northeast Bronx on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, during an event held in honor of the vice president’s visit US President Kamala Harris in the borough to promote the reconstruction of the Biden administration Better Agenda. Harris was in the borough at Bowman’s invitation and was accompanied on the trip by US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Photo by David Greene

Congressman Jamaal Bowman’s amendment to support veterans in their transition to civilian life has passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Custody Bill’s Parity Act and the GI reserve, it was announced on Wednesday, January 12. The amendment, co-led by Representatives Deborah Ross (NC-02), Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-AL), and Gwen Moore (WI-04), calls on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide newly transferred veterans information about medical services they can access, including mental health care and military sexual trauma (STD) support to which they are personally entitled.

In addition to the added burdens that come with transitioning to civilian life, including disproportionate rates of mental health crises, studies show that many new veterans are unaware of the full range of benefits they can access. The Bowman Amendment gives the 250,000 veterans who transition each year information about the important and potentially life-saving resources available to them.

Reacting to the news, Bowman said, “The mental health of our veterans cannot and must not be ignored.” He added, “It is our responsibility to ensure veterans transitioning to civilian life receive the resources and information they need to access health care and mental health services. Regardless of their political affiliation, we should all be able to agree that our veterans make unimaginable sacrifices and often struggle to readapt to civilian life due to a lack of government support. This bipartisan amendment helps them heal by connecting them to federal suicide prevention resources and prioritizing the destigmatization of seeking mental health care. This is just one step in our work to respect and honor those who have served.

For his part, Ross said, “We owe it to all of our veterans, including those in the Reserves and National Guard, to provide access to top-notch medical benefits. We also owe it to these exceptional people to make it simple and easy to access their well-deserved benefits. She added: ‘That’s why I’m thrilled that the House passed the Parity Act of the GI Custody and Reserve Bill and accepted my amendment, which takes proactive steps to ensure that veterans newly transferred know their VA medical benefits. These resources, including mental health support, exist for the sole purpose of assisting former members of the armed forces. It is essential that we do all we can to raise awareness and enable veterans to take advantage of these life-changing benefits.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez-Colon said service members face many barriers when transitioning out of service and the amendment makes it easier to access vested benefits such as community health care and services. Mental Health. “I am proud to work across the aisle to improve the lives of veterans in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States,” she said.

Bowman’s office said the GI Bill’s Parity Act on the Guard and Reserve expands eligibility for GI Bill educational benefits after 9/11 to include Reserve and National Guard members. . Currently, these Americans are missing out on the essential educational benefits that their active-duty counterparts can access.

As noted, Councilman Eric Dinowitz previously confirmed that at the city level, Resolution 1838-2021, raised at the Veterans Affairs Committee, reaffirms New York’s status as a Purple Heart City and calls on the Legislature to State to Pass and Governor to Sign, Assembly/Senate Bills, A.7961/S.2279, to Designate New York State as a Purple Heart State.

Meanwhile, Intro 2354-2021, also city-level legislation, also raised at the Veterans Affairs Committee, and which was signed into law, but returned to City Council without being signed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio , is a local law to amend the new The definition of “veteran” in the City of York charter and the composition of the Veterans Advisory Council.

We contacted the councilor to ask for an update on this, and his office informed us: “It happens regularly that invoices expire (if they are not signed by [the] mayor within 30 days of its approval by council) instead of being signed by the mayor within that time. In any case, it becomes a law.

The bill will ensure that veterans who may have received less than an honorable discharge from service, perhaps due to hardship arising from PTSD or for other reasons, will be entitled to health care and some other benefits. Norwood News reported on this issue in May.

To watch Congressman Bowman’s speech on the floor of the House in support of his amendment, click here.