[WASHINGTON, DC] – Bipartisan legislation to expand Veterans’ access to peer counseling specialists passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
The Veteran Partners’ Efforts to Enhance Reintegration Act (Veteran PEER Act) will expand Veterans’ access to peer specialist services by specifically targeting shortcomings in the current program, including peer specialists’ restricted participation in primary care services; persistent stigma attached to seeking treatment for mental health disorders; and under-promoted proven successes of the peer specialist program in Veteran reintegration.
Peer specialists can be particularly effective in combating the risks of suicide and addressing other mental health needs amongst Veterans.
The legislation establishes peer specialists within VA medical centers to improve and expand upon existing Veteran treatment and services.
A Veteran’s unique relationship with a peer can help provide powerful and unparalleled emotional support – whether they are newly transitioning to civilian life, or seeking long-term care. Bolstering this kind of relationship among Veterans is an effective way to enable more access to vital medical and mental health care.
Peer specialists have first-hand experience in overcoming the challenges our nation’s heroes face, whether it’s navigating the VA or accessing treatment services.