Text: H.R.327 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 110-110 (11/05/2007)

 
[110th Congress Public Law 110]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


[DOCID: f:publ110.110]

[[Page 121 STAT. 1031]]

Public Law 110-110
110th Congress

                                 An Act


 
   To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of 
   Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program 
designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. <<NOTE: Nov. 
                        5, 2007 -  [H.R. 327]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Joshua Omvig 
Veterans Suicide Prevention Act.>> 

SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 38 USC 101 note.>> SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide 
Prevention Act''.

SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 38 USC 1720F note.>> SENSE OF CONGRESS.

    It is the sense of Congress that--
            (1) suicide among veterans suffering from post-traumatic 
        stress disorder (in this section referred to as ``PTSD'') is a 
        serious problem; and
            (2) the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take into 
        consideration the special needs of veterans suffering from PTSD 
        and the special needs of elderly veterans who are at high risk 
        for depression and experience high rates of suicide in 
        developing and implementing the comprehensive program under this 
        Act.

SEC. 3. COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION AMONG VETERANS.

    (a) In General.--
            (1) Comprehensive program for suicide prevention among 
        veterans.--Chapter 17 of title 38, United States Code, is 
        amended by adding at the end the following new section:

``Sec. 1720F. Comprehensive program for suicide prevention among 
                        veterans

    ``(a) Establishment.--The Secretary shall develop and carry out a 
comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among 
veterans incorporating the components described in this section.
    ``(b) Staff Education.--In carrying out the comprehensive program 
under this section, the Secretary shall provide for mandatory training 
for appropriate staff and contractors (including all medical personnel) 
of the Department who interact with veterans. This training shall cover 
information appropriate to the duties being performed by such staff and 
contractors. The training shall include information on--
            ``(1) recognizing risk factors for suicide;

[[Page 121 STAT. 1032]]

            ``(2) proper protocols for responding to crisis situations 
        involving veterans who may be at high risk for suicide; and
            ``(3) best practices for suicide prevention.

    ``(c) Health Assessments of Veterans.--In carrying out the 
comprehensive program, the Secretary shall direct that medical staff 
offer mental health in their overall health assessment when veterans 
seek medical care at a Department medical facility (including a center 
established under section 1712A of this title) and make referrals, at 
the request of the veteran concerned, to appropriate counseling and 
treatment programs for veterans who show signs or symptoms of mental 
health problems.
    ``(d) Designation of Suicide Prevention Counselors.--In carrying out 
the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall designate a suicide 
prevention counselor at each Department medical facility other than 
centers established under section 1712A of this title. Each counselor 
shall work with local emergency rooms, police departments, mental health 
organizations, and veterans service organizations to engage in outreach 
to veterans and improve the coordination of mental health care to 
veterans.
    ``(e) Best Practices Research.--In carrying out the comprehensive 
program, the Secretary shall provide for research on best practices for 
suicide prevention among veterans. Research shall be conducted under 
this subsection in consultation with the heads of the following 
entities:
            ``(1) The Department of Health and Human Services.
            ``(2) The National Institute of Mental Health.
            ``(3) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 
        Administration.
            ``(4) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    ``(f) Sexual Trauma Research.--In carrying out the comprehensive 
program, the Secretary shall provide for research on mental health care 
for veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in military 
service. The research design shall include consideration of veterans of 
a reserve component.
    ``(g) 24-Hour Mental Health Care.--In carrying out the comprehensive 
program, the Secretary shall provide for mental health care availability 
to veterans on a 24-hour basis.
    ``(h) Hotline.--In carrying out the comprehensive program, the 
Secretary may provide for a toll-free hotline for veterans to be staffed 
by appropriately trained mental health personnel and available at all 
times.
    ``(i) Outreach and Education for Veterans and Families.--In carrying 
out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall provide for outreach 
to and education for veterans and the families of veterans, with special 
emphasis on providing information to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom 
and Operation Enduring Freedom and the families of such veterans. 
Education to promote mental health shall include information designed 
to--
            ``(1) remove the stigma associated with mental illness;
            ``(2) encourage veterans to seek treatment and assistance 
        for mental illness;
            ``(3) promote skills for coping with mental illness; and
            ``(4) help families of veterans with--
                    ``(A) understanding issues arising from the 
                readjustment of veterans to civilian life;
                    ``(B) identifying signs and symptoms of mental 
                illness; and

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                    ``(C) encouraging veterans to seek assistance for 
                mental illness.

    ``(j) Peer Support Counseling Program.--(1) In carrying out the 
comprehensive program, the Secretary may establish and carry out a peer 
support counseling program, under which veterans shall be permitted to 
volunteer as peer counselors--
            ``(A) to assist other veterans with issues related to mental 
        health and readjustment; and
            ``(B) to conduct outreach to veterans and the families of 
        veterans.

    ``(2) In carrying out the peer support counseling program under this 
subsection, the Secretary shall provide adequate training for peer 
counselors.
    ``(k) Other Components.--In carrying out the comprehensive program, 
the Secretary may provide for other actions to reduce the incidence of 
suicide among veterans that the Secretary considers appropriate.''.
            (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections at the 
        beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the 
        following new item:

``1720F. Comprehensive program for suicide prevention among 
                      veterans.''.

    (b) Report to Congress.--
            (1) Report required.--Not later than 90 days after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
        shall submit to Congress a report on the comprehensive program 
        under section 1720F of title 38, United States Code, as added by 
        subsection (a).
            (2) Contents of report.--The report shall contain the 
        following:
                    (A) Information on the status of the implementation 
                of such program.
                    (B) Information on the time line and costs for 
                complete implementation of the program within two years.
                    (C) A plan for additional programs and activities 
                designed to reduce the occurrence of suicide among 
                veterans.

[[Page 121 STAT. 1034]]

                    (D) Recommendations for further legislation or 
                administrative action that the Secretary considers 
                appropriate to improve suicide prevention programs 
                within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Approved November 5, 2007.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 327 (S. 479):
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOUSE REPORTS: No. 110-55 (Comm. on Veterans' Affairs).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 110-132 accompanying S. 479 (Comm. on Veterans' 
Affairs).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 153 (2007):
            Mar. 21, considered and passed House.
            Sept. 27, considered and passed Senate, amended.
            Oct. 23, House concurred in Senate amendment.

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