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house Bill H.R. 203

Does the Government Need to Focus on Improving Mental Health Care for Veterans?

Argument in favor

Action needs to be taken to reduce the number of suicides among veterans, and helping those veterans who want to become psychologists is a good start.

The Privatization of Mental Health Care by Reagan posed the mentally ill as criminals. It made receiving health care for mental illnesses expensive and almost impossible. When our Veterans return from the atrocities of war it is our duty to care for them by reintegrating them into society. Throwing our Veterans into a system that demonizes them for what we have made them is both irresponsible and unjust.
Like (14)
JonRunyan's Opinion
We are still 30 years behind in this area.
Like (5)
Jacob's Opinion
Yes our veterans deserve the best health care. They put there lives on the line for us, and now it's are turn to put them first.
Like (2)

Argument opposed

There should be some protections to ensure that these programs don’t get lost in the bureaucratic layers of the VA, which has proven itself to be incompetent when addressing veterans' needs.

ThomasParker's Opinion
Since when has the government been able to provide adequate healthcare for anyone? The last I had heard, government VA hospitals were letting vets die due to their inefficiency. Perhaps they should allow vets to choose which medical provider they like instead.
Like (4)
Curmudgeon's Opinion
The VA should be spun off into the larger hospital system ASAP, assuming the latter still exists as a viable entity after Obaminationcare.
ark4162's Opinion
The government needs to get the hell out of it. Give the Vets a medical card and let them go get care wherever they want.

What is House Bill H.R. 203?

H.R. 203 (a re-introduction of its 113th Congressional counterpart H.R. 5059) would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Secretary of the Department of Defense (DOD), to arrange for an independent third party evaluation of the VA and DOD mental health care and suicide prevention programs — at least once a year. 

It would require the creation of a board to review the discharge or dismissal of a former member of the Armed Forces whose application for relief is based in any way on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to military operations or sexual trauma. This board would:
  • Review the medical evidence from the VA or a civilian health provider presented by the former member.
  • Review the case, with the presumption of administrative irregularity, and place the burden on the VA or DOD to prove by a preponderance of evidence that no error or injustice occurred.

The VA Secretary would be directed to make a website that serves as a centralized resource for veterans with regularly updated information about all of the VA’s mental health care services.

The DOD Secretary and VA Secretary would be required to enter into strategic relationships in order to facilitate:
  • The mental health referrals of members of the Armed Forces reserves who have a service-connected disability and are being discharged or released from the Armed forces.
  • Timely behavioral health services for such members, and communication when such members are at risk of behavioral health reasons.
  • The transfer of documentation for line-of-duty and fitness-for-duty determinations.


Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs, The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and the Department of Defense.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 203

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

Of Note:
The issues of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide among veterans has reached an epidemic level in America, especially among combat veterans.

According to a study done by the National Alliance on Mental Health, nearly 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and 950 suicide attempts per month by veterans that were receiving assistance through the VA.

The Clay Hunt SAV — named in honor of the late Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran and suicide prevention advocate Clay Hunt — unanimously passed the House in the 113th Congress. It was widely supported in the Senate, but was blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).  


This bill requires the VA Secretary to carry out a three-year pilot program to repay the education loans relating to psychiatric medicine that are incurred by individuals who are:

  • Eligible to practice psychiatric medicine in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or are enrolled in the final year of a residency program.

  • This program must lead to a specialty qualification in psychiatric medicine, demonstrate a commitment to a long-term career as a psychiatrist in the VHA, and agree to a period of obligated service with the VHA in psychiatric medicine.

The VA Secretary would be directed to carry out a program as part of the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program. Under which the VA Secretary and an institution of higher education (IHE) agree to cover the full cost of charges not covered by post-9/11 educational assistance incurred by veterans who:

  • Are pursuing an advanced degree in mental health at the IHE.

  • Intend to seek employment as a mental health professional in the VA.

The VA Secretary would be allowed to cover up to 64 percent of those charges, if the school covers the remainder.

Directs the VA Secretary to establish a pilot program at five or more Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) to assist veterans transitioning from active duty, and improve the access to mental health services. Requires the pilot program at each VISN to include:

  • A  community oriented veteran peer support network.

  • A community outreach team for each medical center in such VISN.


Clay Hunt SAV Act

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide for the conduct of annual evaluations of mental health care and suicide prevention programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to require a pilot program on loan repayment for psychiatrists who agree to serve in the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

bill Progress

  • EnactedApril 23rd, 2015
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed February 3rd, 2015
    Roll Call Vote 99 Yea / 0 Nay
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house Passed January 13th, 2015
    Roll Call Vote 403 Yea / 0 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 7th, 2015

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