Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019
This bill makes various updates related to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) transition assistance, mental health care, and telehealth care.
First, the bill expands the VA's transition assistance efforts, including by expanding eligibility for VA hospital care and medical services to recently discharged or released veterans during the one-year period following their discharge or release from active service.
Next, the bill requires the VA to make grants and take specific actions towards preventing veteran suicide.
The bill requires the VA to conduct various studies, implement temporary programs, and issue updated guidelines related to the causes, diagnoses, and treatment of veterans' mental health issues.
The VA must conduct a study and establish measurable goals related to the effectiveness of its suicide prevention and mental health outreach materials and campaigns.
The bill requires the Government Accountability Office to review and report on several of the VA's efforts, including the effort to integrate mental health care into VA primary care clinics.
The bill makes several changes related to the VA's mental health workforce, including expanding direct hiring authority. Among other requirements, the VA must implement the Department of Veterans Affairs Readjustment Counseling Service Scholarship Program and must address staffing shortages of psychiatrists and psychologists.
Finally, the bill requires the VA to award grants to entities for the expansion of telehealth capabilities and provision of telehealth services to veterans. Additionally, the VA must assess current telehealth security protocols used by other entities and implement a standardized telehealth security protocol at VA facilities.