Underwood bill aiming to reduce veteran suicide signed into law

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s bill aiming to improve mental health care among veterans to reduce suicide rates was signed into law this past week.

The Veterans' Care Quality Transparency Act, H.R. 2372, aims to ensure both the Veterans Administration and outside providers offer veterans high-quality mental health and suicide prevention services, according to a news release.

The bipartisan bill unanimously passed the Senate on Sept. 24.

“Veterans have made incredible sacrifices for our country, and often face unique mental health challenges when they return from service, challenges that may be compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Underwood said in the release.

More than 7,300 veterans, service members, reservists and members of the National Guard die by suicide each year, around 20 per day, according to the release.

Underwood’s law directs the Government Accountability Office to assess the effectiveness of agreements the VA has entered with entities providing mental health and suicide prevention services.

The law also calls for a statistical breakdown of entities which serve veterans who are women, people of color and seniors.

“The best way to thank a veteran is to ensure they’re properly cared for when they return home, which is why I fight for the highest standards of veteran health care, especially when it comes to suicide prevention,” Underwood said in the release. “I’m pleased this crucial legislation is now the law of the land so that we may best support our nation’s heroes.”

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.