Coffman Introduces the ‘Peer-2-Peer Counseling Act’

Bill Enhances the VA’s Peer-to-Peer Program

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Washington, December 13, 2017 | Daniel Bucheli (202-225-7882) | comments

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced, H.R. 4635, the ‘Peer-2-Peer Act’, a bipartisan bill, to ensure the Veterans’ Administration’s (VA) existing peer-to-peer counseling program has sufficient female peer counselors for female veterans who are separating or newly separated from military service.

“The VA’s existing peer-to-peer counseling program has seen great success. This bill would build upon its proven record by creating a more representative program of the veteran population and focus on the mental health needs of female veterans.” Said Coffman.  

The VA’s 2016 suicide data report found that the “risk of suicide was 2.4 times higher among female veterans when compared with civilian adult females.” Additionally, “rates of suicide increase more among women than that among men during the study period.”

If enacted, the bill would:

  • Emphasize counseling for women who suffered sexual trauma while serving, have PTSD or another mental health condition, or are at risk of becoming homeless;
  • Include information on VA services and benefits, and employment mentoring;
  • Require the VA Secretary to conduct outreach to inform female veterans of the program and assistance provided; and
  • Require the VA Secretary to facilitate engagement and coordination with community organizations, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, chambers of commerce, local business organizations, and organizations that provide legal assistance, etc.

Currently, the bill is supported by The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

H.R. 4635 will now be referred to the Veterans Affairs Committee, on which Reps. Coffman and Esty currently serve.

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