A law championed by a North Carolina congressman has passed the House of Representatives, ensuring that counseling and mental health help are available to student veterans who may be suffering from their transition out of the military.
Greg Murphy's bipartisan bill, H.R. 4233, passed the House by a vote of 420-4.
He added the Student Veterans Counseling Centers Eligibility Act, which if enacted into law, will extend Vet Center GI Bill eligibility to student veterans enrolled in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education program.
He claimed that the bill would close the mental health resource gap for the 850,000 veterans and beneficiaries already enrolled in a VA education program. The bill will also ensure that counseling and mental health support are available through free and confidential Vet Centers.
Only combat veterans were eligible before the passage of this measure.
"The Vet Center has trauma specialists that are equipped to understand veteran difficulties," Messina explained.
Rep. Mike Bost, a ranking member of the VA committee, noted that one of the most important ways to reward veterans for their service is to help them succeed in school and get their civilian lives off to a good start.
He added, "Through this bill, student veterans will have access to resources that will enable them to connect with other veterans and receive support. I look forward to seeing this vitally important bill pass in the Senate and become law as soon as possible."
The law will need around $1 million in funding, but Murphy doesn't expect any pushback.
"I have been a strong advocate for veterans in Congress, and I believe this is a step forward in helping veterans to return to the community and rebuild themselves," Murphy said.
The bill's next stage is to be passed by the Senate before signing into law.