To the Editor:

Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. John Carter should work to improve accessibility of mental health care for our veterans. The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 286/HR. 945) would help make that possible.

Currently only psychologists and social workers can participate in Medicare. The need for mental health care for veterans far exceeds the capacity of these two categories of providers.

Passage of S.286.HR.945 would mean that professional counselors and marriage & family therapists could participate in Medicare, greatly improving access to our veterans needing mental health services.

This also affects our active-duty service members. When the capacity of health care providers in military treatment facilities is exceeded, service members are referred to civilian treatment facilities. The same limitations regarding Medicare apply in these civilian treatment facilities.

Veterans and active-duty service Members are dying in record numbers due to suicide and lack of access to mental health care. In the first 53 days of 2019, we have lost 1,116 veterans to suicide.

That is 22 men and women EVERY DAY. As a professional counselor, I am calling on our legislators to co-sponsor and facilitate passage of these bills to help save the brave men and women who signed a blank check to to protect and serve this nation.

Terry Yelle


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