Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Central Islip), Chair of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced that the Assembly passed legislation he sponsored to create the Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act (A.9415). This legislation would ensure that veterans suffering from combat-related mental illnesses have access to the assistance they need after serving in the military.
“Our veterans did their job protecting us, now it’s time we start protecting them,” said Assemblyman Ramos. “War combat leaves mental scars on many veterans who struggle with depression, anxiety or substance-abuse problems. That’s why I’m fighting to make sure they get they help they need right away.”
This legislation would call on the New York State Veterans’ Affairs Commission to develop and update an interagency plan to improve outreach, assessment and care for veterans who are experiencing mental health, major depression and/or substance abuse problems, and provide assistance to their families. This bill would also require a progress report to be issued each year.
Over 85,000 New Yorkers have participated in Operation Enduring Freedom (War in Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or both, since Sept. 11, 2001. Upon returning home, at least one in three Iraq veterans and one in nine Afghanistan veterans will face mental health issues like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.i Unfortunately, the current mental health system cannot meet the needs of all veterans and their families, Assemblyman Ramos added.
The proposed planning process acknowledges the need to implement services in addition to those provided by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs system, in order to address the needs of veterans and their families who are either ineligible for these services or choose not to utilize them, Assemblyman Ramos said.
“This legislation provides much-needed support to all our military families, helping them through a tough time. I will continue to make sure that our brave military men and women have access to the assistance and services they need and deserve.” Ramos concluded.