Hassan Calling For Va To Help Veterans' Mental Health

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire has helped lead a bipartisan group of senators calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the impact of U.S. troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan on veterans' mental health.

A letter signed by more than 30 senators to Secretary Denis McDonough encourages the department “to quickly develop a comprehensive outreach plan to connect Afghanistan and Global War on Terrorism veterans to VA benefits and services.”

“More than two million veterans served during the Global War on Terrorism, including more than 800,000 in Afghanistan, and these service members deserve and earned the support that they need," said the letter, dated Tuesday.

The letter notes that veterans between the ages of 18 to 34 have the highest suicide rate among former service members and that many veterans do not use the Veterans Health Administration services, which provides many mental health resources geared at preventing suicide among service members.

The letter said an outreach plan must contact veterans through means such as digital correspondence, social media, phone calls and text messages, and provide information on mental health services and community-based support programs.

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a fellow Democrat, also signed the letter.