President Signs Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Measure
President Bush on Monday signed into law a veterans' suicide prevention bill (HR 327) that will require mental health training for Department of Veterans Affairs staff, mental health screenings for all veterans who receive VA care and a suicide counselor for each VA health care facility, the AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
The law also supports outreach and education efforts for veterans and their families, as well as peer support counseling and suicide prevention research (AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 11/5).
In related news, the Washington Post on Tuesday profiled Give an Hour, a not-for-profit group of psychologists, social workers and other counselors from 40 states and Washington, D.C., that provides no-cost counseling for soldiers, their families and unmarried partners.
According to Barbara Romberg, a district clinical psychologist who launched the group, the goal of the organization is to supplement services offered by the Department of Defense and VA because the departments do not offer counseling to the families of servicemembers. Many relatives of servicemembers may be reluctant to seek mental health care because of financial reasons or concerns that seeking counseling could jeopardize their family member's military career, according to the Post.
Under the program, volunteers provide free-of-charge counseling one hour per week for a minimum of one year. The program currently has more than 720 volunteers providing services to about 50 clients (Boodman, Washington Post, 11/6).