Coffman bill extending mental health services to vets without honorable discharge passes 1st House test

Currently veterans who were dishonorably discharged can’t access services including mental health care. The Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide initial mental health assessments and mental health care services to veterans at risk of suicide or harming others.

AURORA | U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s bill to expand mental health services to veterans who left the service without an honorable discharge passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs on Wednesday.

Currently veterans who were dishonorably discharged can’t access veterans’ services including mental health care. The Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide initial mental health assessments and mental health care services to veterans at risk of suicide or harming others.

“This legislation will provide much needed mental health care for many of our combat veterans suffering from PTSD or TBI who have been forced out of the military due to minor misconduct,” Coffman said in a statement.

Often veterans are dishonorably discharged due to incidents related to post traumatic stress disorder or other conditions acquired during tours of duty, a point Coffman raised during his Aurora town hall meeting in April while discussing the bill.

According to Coffman’s press release, the Government Accountability Office in may found that 62 percent of the 91,764 service members separated for misconduct between 2011-2015 had been diagnosed within two years prior to separation with PTSD, TBI, or other conditions that could be associated with misconduct.

The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Derek Kilmer, a Democratic representative from Washington.