State Rep. Will Bruck is helping lead a bipartisan effort to improve access to mental health care for Michigan veterans.
Bruck, a retired Army veteran, said he knows how much of a toll Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges take on military service members. The legislation he is sponsoring will establish new mental health support programs for service members, veterans and their families.
“The emotional scars of war often run deep, affecting the men and women who have dedicated their lives to our country,” said Bruck, R-Erie. “As a veteran who has personally grappled with the lasting impact of PTSD, I understand the urgency of addressing these invisible wounds and I want to make sure no veteran is left to suffer alone.”
The bipartisan plan:
- Establishes the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention within the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. It also ensures the collection of data surrounding mental health and substance abuse issues.
- Establishes a statewide outreach program on mental health and substance abuse for service members and veterans. The program would also provide resources and support for family members of service members and veterans navigating mental health and substance abuse issues.
- Establishes a county veteran service officer training program within the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. This optional program will allow county veteran service officers to receive training and be able to administer a basic mental health and substance abuse screening to veterans.
- Places the Buddy to Buddy Volunteer Mentorship Program within state law. This will offer stability for the program, which offers one-on-one, veteran-to-veteran mentorship.
- Creates a transition program for all Army and Air National Guard members in the state. Modeled after many of the same courses that are required for service members leaving the armed forces, this program will focus solely on mental health and wellbeing, navigating the military to civilian transition, and exploring ways to find purpose after service.
“As a state, it is our duty to ensure that no veteran who has shouldered the burdens of our defense is left to fight their mental battles alone,” Bruck said. “We must build bridges that connect our veterans to the crucial services they deserve.”
House Bills 5276-5280 were referred to the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee for consideration.
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