December 9,  2020

Washington, DC — Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) released the following statement after his bill, the Peer Support for Veterans Families Act, was signed into law by President Donald Trump over the weekend on Saturday, December 5th.

The bipartisan bill, introduced last August by Rep. Curtis and Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), was included in the larger Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020.

The Peer Support for Veterans Families Act creates a pilot program providing education and peer support for the families and caregivers of veterans who have received a mental health diagnosis. Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) was also an original co-sponsor of the bill.

“I am thankful my colleagues recognize that this bipartisan legislation provides needed resources to those supporting our veterans in mental crisis,” said Curtis. “Actions speak louder than words, and it’s past due for our nation to honor the courageous sacrifices our brave men and women in the military have made to protect our freedoms. Now that it’s signed into law, our bill gives veterans and their families hope for a better future after completing their service to our country.” 

“We can no longer ignore the importance of taking care of those who care for our veterans, and with this bill we no longer will,” said Finkenauer. “I am so proud to see this life-changing bill become law, and I look forward to seeing the Department of Veterans Affairs quickly launch the pilot programs it prescribes.”

Support

The Peer Support for Veterans Families Act is endorsed by: the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA), the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Association of Suicidology, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and The American Legion.

Background

The Peer Support for Veterans Families Act directs the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to set up a pilot program in 10 medical facilities to offer education and peer support programs to veterans’ caregivers and families. With the permission of the veteran, caregivers will receive training in understanding mental illness, coping with stress, and de-escalating crisis situations. The new initiative will allow caregivers to learn from and support each other as well as provide them the opportunity to lead trainings and peer support meetings.

The bill directs the VA to choose sites that lack other resources nearby and to contract with training organizations with expertise in evidence-based approaches and military/veteran cultural competence, and that can offer services online whenever possible.

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