Representative Zach Nunn Introduces Bipartisan Legislation Supporting Veteran Mental Health in Memory of Adel Veteran

Today would have been Cpl. Lambert’s 32nd birthday 

Van Meter, Iowa — Representative Zach Nunn (IA-03) joined with the family of Cpl. Adam Lambert of Adel, Iowa today to introduce bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing veteran suicides. The Daniel J. Harvey Jr. and Adam Lambert Improving Servicemember Transition to Reduce Veteran Suicide Act is named to honor the memory of two Marines who served in Afghanistan together, Iowa’s Cpl. Adam Lambert from Adel and Rhode Island’s Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Harvey Jr. of Johnston. Both men tragically lost their lives to suicide within a year of leaving the military. Today would have been Cpl. Lambert’s 32nd birthday. 
“Iowa’s Cpl. Adam Lambert was a proud Marine, an honorable young man, and a brave soldier who raised his hand to serve our country. America is the land of the free and home of the brave because of people like Adam, and we owe eternal gratitude to our veterans,” said Rep. Nunn. “The transition back to civilian life is harder than it should be. I’m proud to work with colleagues across the aisle, as well as with the parents of Cpl. Lambert, to introduce legislation that aims to make that transition easier by improving mental health services.  We owe it to the next generation of soldiers.”   
The bill—co-led by Representatives Seth Magaziner (RI-02), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Don Davis (NC-01), and Jen Kiggans (VA-02)—would create a pilot program designed to counsel servicemembers about mental health, the challenges that they might face during transition to civilian life and how that might affect their mental health.  The bill would also inform servicemembers about the services available to them at their local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility. 
“A proud son of Johnston, Rhode Island, Lance Corporal Daniel Harvey Jr. was an American hero who wore our nation’s uniform with honor. After returning home from combat, Daniel struggled with the hidden scars of post-traumatic stress disorder, like so many of his fellow veterans,” said Rep. Magaziner.“Together with my Democratic and Republican colleagues, I’m re-introducing this bipartisan legislation to expand access to quality mental healthcare for veterans when they return to their communities, so that no veteran has to deal with the challenges of PTSD alone.” 
The suicide rate triples for veterans in the first 12 months following their separation from the military.  In Iowa, the veteran suicide rate is four times higher than the national average.   
“This is a piece of legislation I’m proud to support in the name of two American heroes who fought bravely to defend our country, Iowan Cpl. Adam Lambert and Rhode Islander Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Harvey Jr. Unfortunately, many of our service members have difficulty transitioning to civilian life, and we owe it to our veterans to help during this challenging time,” said Rep. Miller-Meeks. “It is so important that we continue to end the stigma around mental health treatment and encourage everyone to get help when they need it. This legislation will help address the mental health issues our servicemen and women face and assist them as they adjust to civilian life” 
The pilot program would be established at ten different Transition Assistance Program (TAP) locations, which serve at least 300 members annually.  TAP counseling would include discussion related to possible loss of community or identity crises while transitioning to civilian life.  The bill would also require servicemembers:

  • To be provided with information regarding the mental health programs and benefits at their local VA facility.  
  • To submit their medical records to the VA regardless of whether they chose to utilize benefits. 
  • To be contacted by a social worker or mental health professional from their local VA within 90 days of transitioning with the offer to set up an appointment. 

After five years, the Secretaries of Defense and VA would conduct an assessment to determine whether to expand the pilot program. 
“We must not have servicemembers put themselves in harm’s way fighting for our country only to return home and take their own lives. The suicide rate in the ranks and among our veterans is unacceptable,” said Rep. Davis. “We must evaluate the feasibility of providing mental health counseling and services to our servicemembers to reduce suicides. As we reflect on Memorial Day, we can honor the legacy of our fallen by recommitting ourselves to our servicemembers and veterans — our heroes.” 
“Transitioning out of our military and into civilian life can be one of the most challenging times in our servicemembers’ lives,” said Rep. Kiggans. “As a Navy veteran and primary care healthcare provider, supporting our military mental health is one of my biggest priorities in Congress. I’m proud to join my colleagues in establishing this program, and I’m hopeful that it will improve and save lives as our military men and women conclude their service to our nation.”  
The full text of the bill can be read here.