WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., has recently helped to introduce two different pieces of bipartisan legislation in support of our service members and veterans — the Care And Readiness Enhancement (CARE) for Reservists Act, and the Green Alert Act.
As part of her efforts to support service members in New Hampshire and across the country in civilian life, Hassan joined Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., among others, in introducing the CARE for Reservists Act to address the high rate of suicide among members of the National Guard and Reserve.
Currently, members of the National Guard and Reserve undergo annual health assessments to identify medical issues that could impact their ability to deploy, but they must often pay out of pocket for any follow-up care. The CARE for Reservists Act would improve access to consistent mental health care, regardless of their deployment status.
The Act would allow the Department of Defense to fund needed behavioral or mental health care, regardless of whether that Reservist is within his or her pre-deployment window or has never deployed at all. The bill would also allow members of the Guard and Reserve to access veteran centers for mental health screening and counseling, employment assessments, education training and other services to help them return to civilian life.
“The suicide rate among members of the National Guard and Reservists is alarming, and we must do more to increase access to mental health care and support services to all who sacrifice to defend our freedoms,” Hassan said. “By providing mental health care to members of the Guard and Reservists — regardless of their deployment status — this bipartisan legislation is a step forward in our efforts to support those who serve our nation and help them thrive in civilian life.”
Green Alert Act
The Green Alert Act, which Hassan and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced last week, is meant to help states establish a system to locate at-risk veterans when they go missing so that they can receive appropriate care, similar to the Amber Alert system for children or the Silver Alert system for older Americans. Last year, Wisconsin became the first state to establish a Green Alert system.
The Green Alert Act of 2019 would establish a federal commission to develop best practices and provide technical assistance to states to implement Green Alert systems that would be used to alert law enforcement and the public in the event of a veteran’s disappearance.
The commission would provide a report to Congress after two years of enactment on recommendations for any appropriate additional actions to support states as they develop Green Alert systems.
The members of the commission would include veterans; state and local officials; and members from the Departments of Justice, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services.
Hassan was inspired to take up this bill by retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc of Stratham, who has been a leader in efforts to help expand Wisconsin’s Green Alert system in states nationwide.
The legislation is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion.