The top Veterans Affairs lawmaker in the Senate pledged to pass a major veterans' mental healthcare bill in a letter to America's veterans ahead of Memorial Day.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said in the letter that this month he was "working with President Donald Trump and my colleagues in Congress to get this crucial legislation signed into law."
That legislation is the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Healthcare Improvement Act. It was one of the first bills unanimously passed out of the committee in January after Moran took over as chairman for Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., upon his retirement.
The omnibus bill is named for Commander John Scott Hannon, a former leader of SEAL Team Two, member of SEAL Team Six and Special Operations and policy staff officer at U.S. Special Operations Command, who retired in 2012. Six years later, Hannon died of suicide after 23 years of service.
Hannon received treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, severe depression and bipolar disorder at the VA in Montana. He was committed to helping others while seeking his own recovery. Volunteering with the National Alliance for Mental Illness he spoke candidly at events about his wartime injuries.
“Scott was open about his invisible wounds of war and found solace and recovery in many of the causes that also allowed him to give back to his fellow veterans and his community. He was passionate about improving veterans’ access to mental health care and integrating service animals into mental health care. Scott worked closely with Montana Wild and VA Montana to develop a group therapy program for veterans that involved birds of prey. Scott was embraced on his journey to recovery by his family, friends, and community. He died from his invisible wounds of war February 25, 2018,” his biography reads.
The bill passed out of committee but has yet to see a vote on the Senate floor. If approved by the Senate, the bill moves on to the House.
"Our nation has a duty to make certain that you have the support and resources you need. You are highly capable andmotivated individuals, who are a valuable addition to any community — yet too often the invisible wounds of war can goundiagnosed and untreated," Moran wrote. "For those of you who might be experiencing those wounds, I want you to know that you are not alone, we appreciate you and you deserve the best our nation has to offer."