(a) Establishment.— The Secretary shall develop and carry out a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans incorporating the components described in this section.
(b) Staff Education.— In carrying out the comprehensive program under this section, the Secretary shall provide for mandatory training for appropriate staff and contractors (including all medical personnel) of the Department who interact with veterans. This training shall cover information appropriate to the duties being performed by such staff and contractors. The training shall include information on—
(1)recognizing risk factors for suicide;
(2)proper protocols for responding to crisis situations involving veterans who may be at high risk for suicide; and
(3)best practices for suicide prevention.
(c) Health Assessments of Veterans.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall direct that medical staff offer mental health in their overall health assessment when veterans seek medical care at a Department medical facility (including a center established under section
1712A of this title) and make referrals, at the request of the veteran concerned, to appropriate counseling and treatment programs for veterans who show signs or symptoms of mental health problems.
(d) Designation of Suicide Prevention Counselors.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall designate a suicide prevention counselor at each Department medical facility other than centers established under section
1712A of this title. Each counselor shall work with local emergency rooms, police departments, mental health organizations, and veterans service organizations to engage in outreach to veterans and improve the coordination of mental health care to veterans.
(e) Best Practices Research.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall provide for research on best practices for suicide prevention among veterans. Research shall be conducted under this subsection in consultation with the heads of the following entities:
(1)The Department of Health and Human Services.
(2)The National Institute of Mental Health.
(3)The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
(4)The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(f) Sexual Trauma Research.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall provide for research on mental health care for veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in military service. The research design shall include consideration of veterans of a reserve component.
(g) 24-Hour Mental Health Care.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall provide for mental health care availability to veterans on a 24-hour basis.
(h) Hotline.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary may provide for a toll-free hotline for veterans to be staffed by appropriately trained mental health personnel and available at all times.
(i) Outreach and Education for Veterans and Families.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall provide for outreach to and education for veterans and the families of veterans, with special emphasis on providing information to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and the families of such veterans. Education to promote mental health shall include information designed to—
(1)remove the stigma associated with mental illness;
(2)encourage veterans to seek treatment and assistance for mental illness;
(3)promote skills for coping with mental illness; and
(4)help families of veterans with—
(A)understanding issues arising from the readjustment of veterans to civilian life;
(B)identifying signs and symptoms of mental illness; and
(C)encouraging veterans to seek assistance for mental illness.
(j) Peer Support Counseling Program.—
(1)In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary shall establish and carry out a peer support counseling program, under which veterans shall be permitted to volunteer as peer counselors—
(A)to assist other veterans with issues related to mental health and readjustment; and
(B)to conduct outreach to veterans and the families of veterans.
(2)In carrying out the peer support counseling program under this subsection, the Secretary shall provide adequate training for peer counselors, including training carried out under the national program of training required by section 304(c) of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (38 U.S.C. 1712A note).
(3)In addition to other locations the Secretary considers appropriate, the Secretary shall carry out the peer support program under this subsection at each Department medical center.
(k) Other Components.— In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary may provide for other actions to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans that the Secretary considers appropriate.
Section 304(c) of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, referred to in subsec. (j)(2), is section 304(c) ofPub. L. 111–163, which is set out as a note under section
1712A of this title.
Section 3(a)(1) ofPub. L. 110–110, which directed that this section be added at the end of this chapter, was executed by adding this section at the end of this subchapter, to reflect the probable intent of Congress.
2013—Subsec. (j)(1). Pub. L. 112–239, § 730(a)(1), substituted “shall establish” for “may establish” in introductory provisions.
Subsec. (j)(2). Pub. L. 112–239, § 730(a)(2), inserted “, including training carried out under the national program of training required by section 304(c) of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (38 U.S.C. 1712A note)” after “peer counselors”.
Pub. L. 112–239, div. A, title VII, § 730(a)(4),Jan. 2, 2013, 126 Stat. 1814, provided that: “The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure that the peer support counseling program required by section
1720F(j) of title
38, United States Code, as amended by this subsection, commences at each Department of Veterans Affairs medical center not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [Jan. 2, 2013].”
“(1) suicide among veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (in this section referred to as ‘PTSD’) is a serious problem; and
“(2) the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take into consideration the special needs of veterans suffering from PTSD and the special needs of elderly veterans who are at high risk for depression and experience high rates of suicide in developing and implementing the comprehensive program under this Act [enacting this section and provisions set out as a note under section
101 of this title].”
The table below lists the classification updates, since Jan. 3, 2012, for this section. Updates to a broader range of sections may be found at the update page for containing chapter, title, etc.
The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013
An empty table indicates that we see no relevant changes listed in the classification tables. If you suspect that our system may be missing something, please double-check with the Office of the Law Revision Counsel.