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Helping those who served: House Representatives want to create an Office of Mental Health for Veterans

House Bill 5276 will create the Protecting Veterans Mental Health Act
Posted at 9:44 PM, Jun 11, 2024
  • House Bill 5276 will create the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency
  • It will create statewide mental outreach programs, peer-to-peer mentorship, and a transition bridge program.
  • Video shows the importance of mental health for the veteran community.

Efforts are aiming to focus on veterans' mental health by creating an Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention over at the MVAA.
"1 out of every 4 veterans is dealing with a mental health diagnosis that meets DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] criteria. I still think that's underreported."

Johnathon Ferguson knows the struggle that many of our veterans face.

"I'm a United States Army Veteran, Combat Veteran, served from 1999 to 2006."

Today, Ferguson helps support veterans in our neighborhoods with getting care, resources, and referrals.

"One thing about veterans is that they are a proud group and then oftentimes they may be reluctant to reach out for help."

Those efforts could soon be boosted.

House Bill 5276 would help create the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency or MVAA.

Through grant funding, the office would be able to give money to organizations to:

  • create peer-to-peer mentorship and
  • a transition bridge program to help ease the way from military to civilian life.

A more in-depth look at the bill package proposed addressing veterans mental health and substance use disorders.

"MVAA supports these bills and is eager to work with you [house committee members] to ensure success with parameters of our current funding and staffing capabilities."

MVAA director Brian Love testified his support for the bills back in May but according to the fiscal report from the House committee, the cost of hiring the people to make it work would be an estimated half a million dollars.

"MVAA appreciates the ability to administer grants in support of these efforts and firmly believes this one of the most effective means in the state to contribute to combating these critical issues," Love said. "However with MVAA being limited by our staffing impedes our capabilities to adequately support the grants outlined in House Bill 5276."

But Ferguson believes that at the end of the day, it's about making sure those who served are okay...

"Our main objective is to ensure our veteran population is taken care of," Ferguson said.

For more information about the Community Mental Health Veterans Navigation Program, visit their website.

If you or a veteran you know is experiencing a crisis, call 988, press 1 and a mental health professional will be there to speak to you. You are also able to text a mental health professional at 838255. As always, our neighbors can visit Community Mental Health and see the crisis services.

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