Reps. Cisneros and Mast Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Veteran Suicide and Substance Use Problems

February 12, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA-39) and Brian Mast (R-FL-18) introduce bipartisan legislation to prevent veteran suicide and substance use problems. The Setting Treatment Options and Practices for Veteran Suicide and Substance Abuse Act (STOP Veteran Suicide and Substance Abuse Act) requires the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in consultation with the Department of Defense, to: (1) complete its clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD, TBI, and MST when those diagnoses are comorbid with substance use disorder or chronic pain; and (2) update the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Patients at Risk for Suicide with age and gender specific risk factors and treatment options. The full text of the bill can be found here.

“When we have 20 veterans die by suicide a day, Congress has to take a hard look at what we need to do better. We have to ensure our veterans get the mental healthcare treatment they deserve to combat substance use problems,” said Rep. Cisneros. “Today, I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan STOP Veteran Suicide and Substance Abuse Act with Rep. Mast and reform our clinical practice guidelines to provide our veterans with a more holistic treatment plan. As a Navy Veteran, I want our veterans to know that they are not alone and that Congress is fighting for them.”

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t talk to a veteran who is struggling with their self-worth since leaving the military. That’s why I believe improving veterans’ access to high-quality mental health care must be one of our top priorities,” Rep. Mast said. “Coming together to combat the veteran suicide epidemic is something we can all get behind, and that’s what this bill is all about.”

The Senate companion of this House bill is incorporated in Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) bill, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 (S.785).

Rep. Cisneros is a Navy Veteran and member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He voted to pass the FIGHT Veteran Suicide Act which requires the VA to provide notice to Congress of the suicide or attempted suicide and the name of the facility and location where the suicide or attempted suicide occurred no later than seven days after the incident. Rep. Cisneros is also a lead cosponsor of the bipartisan PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, which recently passed the House and establishes a pilot program at the VA to provide veterans coping with post-traumatic stress (PTS) work therapy by learning the art and science of training dogs for service.