STRONG Veterans Act of 2022-
Expanding VA Mental Health Services
Mental health conditions are common in the United States and in 2018, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports more than 1.7 million Veterans received treatment in a VA mental health program.
The STRONG Veterans Act, Division V of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023 (P.L. 117-328), was signed into law in December 2022 and addresses mental health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The STRONG Veterans Act contains 27 actionable sections requiring VA to work collaboratively with the Indian Health Service (IHS) and other partners to begin implementing the plan with a finalization date of December 2030.
The STRONG Veterans Act highlights existing efforts and propels VA to take further action to strengthen mental health and suicide prevention programs. It supports Veterans’ mental health and well-being through increased training, outreach, mental health care delivery and research.
The new law aligns with VA’s top clinical priority of preventing Veteran suicide and connecting Veterans with the soonest and best care. VA is expanding its culturally competent mental health and suicide prevention services to traditionally underserved Veterans while increasing staffing across mental health disciplines.
The STRONG Veterans Act reinforces existing culturally competent mental health outreach and suicide prevention efforts for American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans and Veterans in rural, remote and underserved communities. Implementation of enhanced training, quality management, pilot programs and research further bolster the Veterans Crisis Line and improves program outcomes, targeting Veterans at high-risk of suicide or substance use and overdose risk.
The Act promotes VA’s priority to recruit and retain a competitive workforce by offering enhanced training, scholarships, loan repayments and paid trainee opportunities.
By delivering effective treatments, equipping VA’s workforce to provide the best care, and further strengthening VA’s crisis response system, the STRONG Veterans Act bolsters VA’s efforts to support Veterans’ mental health and ensure equal access to VA’s life-saving resources.
VA urges anyone with thoughts of suicide or knows someone having thoughts of suicide to contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention. The VCL is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 988, Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at http://VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.