Text: H.R.327 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)
Public Law No: 110-110 (11/05/2007)
[110th Congress Public Law 110]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[[Page 121 STAT. 1031]]
Public Law 110-110
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
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
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
``(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;
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``(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
``(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
``(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
``(1) The Department of Health and Human Services.
``(2) The National Institute of Mental Health.
``(3) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
``(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
``(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
``(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
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``(C) encouraging veterans to seek assistance for
``(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
``(2) In carrying out the peer support counseling program under this
subsection, the Secretary shall provide adequate training for peer
``(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
(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
(2) Contents of report.--The report shall contain the
(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
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(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'
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.