Fitzpatrick’s bipartisan bill would improve mental health support for veterans

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on Sept. 1 introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to enhance suicide prevention efforts for the nation’s military service members via integrative health measures at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“It is imperative that our nation’s veterans receive access to the highest quality medical testing and holistic treatment options, including for mental health,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said.

The congressman is the original cosponsor of the Testing, Researching, and Expanding Alternative Treatments (TREAT) Act, H.R. 8147, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), which would task the VA with expanding an existing pilot program and establishing a new one for complementary and integrative health services for veterans, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“Our bipartisan TREAT Act will provide our veterans with integrative health options for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to work with my friend Rep. Lamb on improving our veterans’ access to the care that they deserve.”

The new legislation builds upon the Whole Veteran Act, H.R. 2359, introduced in 2019 by Reps. Fitzpatrick and Lamb, to require the VA to report on the implementation of its whole health approach to healthcare, a holistic approach that considers the many areas of life that may affect health in order to make a health plan specific to each individual, according to the congressional record summary. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in May 2019.

If enacted, H.R. 8147 would require the VA to establish a two-year program to provide complementary and integrative health services for the treatment of depression, anxiety and PTSD, and to release a study on providing integrative health treatments, including yoga, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and other treatments to help with mental or physical health conditions.

“We must do more to combat the veteran suicide crisis,” said Rep. Lamb. “Congress needs to give the VA every tool possible to meet the mental health challenges facing our veterans before they get to the point of danger.”