In October, Texas legislators gathered in El Paso to announce the signing of Senate Bill 27, “The Help for Texas Heroes Act,” which earmarks money for licensed mental health counselors who provide services for veterans and their families.
Representative César Blanco of District 76 and senators Donna Campbell of New Braunfels and José Rodriguez of District 29 addressed a small group at the Airway Wyndham to highlight the bill.
While state-provided access to counselors was previously available, counselors were fewer in number and therefore not able to reach all of those in need, proponents said. SB27 expands the Military Veteran Peer-to-Peer Network, which was implemented by the legislature in 2015 as part of the Mental Health Program for Veterans. The money comes from the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill was authored by Campbell, chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Border Security Committee, and co-sponsored by Blanco. The Act took effect on September 1.
Blanco, a Navy veteran and the House sponsor of the bill, said this will make sure “local authorities have the capability to provide these services” to residents in their jurisdictions – particularly rural areas, where veterans may not have easy access to care. Such legislation is crucial because 22 veterans across the nation commit suicide each day, he added.
“We will continue to prioritize vets now and into the future,” Blanco said.