U.S. Representatives Brian Mast (FL-18) and Robin Kelly (IL-02) introduced the bipartisan Solid Start Reporting Act to help prevent veteran suicide. This legislation establishes oversight baselines for a newly created program to support veteran mental health during the first year after departing military service.
“For those who put on the uniform, the transition to civilian life is too often one of most difficult parts of serving their country. Proactively reaching out to veterans in their first year out of the service is a great way to make sure none of my brothers and sisters struggling with the invisible tolls of war fall through the cracks,” Rep Mast said. “It’s my hope that this bill can make a real difference in easing this transition and help get veterans back on their feet.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently established the Solid Start Program to proactively contact veterans several times during the first year of their transition to civilian life. The program is based on research indicating that the first year out of service is a high-risk period for mental health challenges for all veterans, regardless of demographics.
“I applaud the VA for working to develop a data-backed program to support veterans during the particularly challenging first transition year. We know that a simple conversation can be effective in providing support to struggling veterans and their families,” Rep. Kelly said. “However, Congress must ensure that programs designed to address a real and growing crisis work. If not, how can we improve them? Providing for the mental health of service members, veterans and their families is everyone’s responsibility and Congress will continue to do our part through funding and oversight.”
The legislation requires an annual report on the program’s effectiveness, including the number of veterans contacted; response rates; data on referrals for benefits, compensation and pensions examinations, and enrollments; and usage of the Veterans Crisis Line.
The legislation can be found HERE.