5th Coffman Bill Becomes Law...
It is an honor for me to represent our district in the U.S. House of Representatives. As always, I appreciate your time in reading this brief update.
Over the past year, the tragedy of teen suicide has shaken too many Colorado communities, from Colorado Springs and Grand Junction, to schools right here in our congressional district. While the nation as a whole is seeing increases in suicide rates among young people, Colorado is particularly affected. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate in Colorado is nearly double the national average, and suicide is the leading cause of death among young people. While the reasons for this remains uncertain, it is clear that we, as a state and as a nation, must act to address this terrible problem.
| Natalie Pramenko, Principal of Arapahoe High School in Littleton
This past week, I went to Arapahoe High School, in Littleton, where I met with Principal Natalie Pramenko, the Director of Secondary Education Clay Abla, and the Director of Social, Emotional and Behavior Services, Nate Thompson. During our meeting, we discussed how Littleton Public Schools’ new ‘Sources of Strength’ program is working at Arapahoe High School and across secondary schools in the district to prevent teen suicide. The program partners students with individual school staff members to serve as adult advisors while emphasizing community support, resilience, and engagement.
During my visit, I was deeply impressed with the dedication and passion shared by Principal Pramenko and Directors Abla and Thompson in their innovative approaches to combat this complex problem. They explained some of the root causes of teen suicide such as a youth culture that is obsessed with social media, over prescribing psychotropic drugs to treat teen anxiety and depression, and marijuana-infused products that have extremely high levels of THC. I was very impressed with their leadership and with all that they are doing, within the challenges of diverting limited resources from other priorities, to prevent teen suicide.
On Wednesday, the President signed into law H.R. 6, the ‘Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act’. Not only am I pleased that this important bill to comprehensively address the opioid problem is now law, I am even more please that included in this landmark legislation was my bill, H.R. 4635, The ‘Peer-2-Peer Counseling Act’.
My bill, now law, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Peer Counseling Program to engage a sufficient number of peer counselors to focus on working with our female veterans. These counselors will have expertise in gender-specific issues and services for female veterans who are separating or have recently separated from the military. The program will prioritize providing counseling services to female veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while serving in our armed forces, have PTSD or another mental health condition and/or are at risk for homelessness.
As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I will continue to press the VA to recognize and adjust how it delivers services to the fact that the female population of our military will soon reach 20%. Clearly, the VA of today and of tomorrow must adapt to these changing demographics in our veteran population. I am proud to have led the effort to pass this bipartisan legislation, which will have a meaningful impact for female veterans in our district and our nation now and for years to come.
Finally, as your Representative, each year, I have the honor and privilege of nominating several outstanding young men and women to attend our nation’s service academies. This coming weekend, I will be conducting interviews for this year’s crop of applicants. I always enjoy this opportunity to meet these fine young Americans who seek to serve our nation. I look forward to providing you more details in next week’s message.
As always, I invite you to follow me on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest news it develops. Likewise, you can find all the latest news on my website. I look forward to seeing you around the district!