TWENTY-EIGHTH LEGISLATURE, 2015
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to veterans.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. Chapter 321, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"PART . VETERAN HEALTH CARE
§321- Suicide prevention program; veterans. (a) The department of health, in consultation with the director of the office of veterans' services, shall develop and carry out a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans in Hawaii by incorporating the components described in this section.
(b) Mandatory training for appropriate staff and contractors, including all medical personnel of the department of health who interact with veterans shall be provided. This training shall cover information appropriate to the duties being performed by staff and contractors. The training shall include information on:
(1) Recognizing risk factors for suicide;
(2) Proper protocols for responding to crisis situations involving veterans who may be at high risk for suicide; and
(3) Best practices for suicide prevention.
(c) The director of health shall direct that State medical staff offer mental health in their overall health assessment when veterans seek medical care at a medical facility, and make referrals, at the request of the veteran concerned, to appropriate counseling and treatment programs for veterans who show signs or symptoms of mental health problems.
(d) The department of health shall designate a suicide prevention counselor at each state medical facility. Each counselor shall work with local emergency rooms, police departments, mental health organizations, and veterans service organizations to engage in outreach to veterans and improve the coordination of mental health care to veterans.
(e) The department of health shall provide for research on best practices for suicide prevention among veterans. Research shall be conducted under this subsection in consultation with the following entities:
(1) The United States Department of Health and Human Services;
(2) The National Institute of Mental Health;
(3) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and
(4) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(f) Research on mental health care for veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in military service shall be included in the program. The research design shall include consideration of veterans of a reserve component.
(g) Twenty-four-hour mental health care shall be made available to veterans.
(h) A toll-free hotline for veterans may be established, staffed by appropriately trained mental health personnel, and available at all times.
(i) Outreach to and education for veterans and the families of veterans, with special emphasis on providing information to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and the families of those veterans. Education to promote mental health shall include information designed to:
(1) Remove the stigma associated with mental illness;
(2) Encourage veterans to seek treatment and assistance for mental illness;
(3) Promote skills for coping with mental illness; and
(4) Help families of veterans with:
(A) Understanding issues arising from the readjustment of veterans to civilian life;
(B) Identifying signs and symptoms of mental illness; and
(C) Encouraging veterans to seek assistance for mental illness.
(j) A peer support counseling program shall be established under the program through which veterans shall be permitted to volunteer as peer counselors:
(1) To assist other veterans with issues related to mental health and readjustment; and
(2) To conduct outreach to veterans and the families of veterans.
In carrying out the peer support counseling program under this subsection, the department of health shall provide adequate training for peer counselors.
(k) The department of health may provide for other actions to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans that the director of health considers appropriate."
SECTION 2. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $1,000,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2015-2016 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2016-2017 for a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans..
The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of health for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2015.
Veterans; Suicide Prevention
Directs the DOH to establish a comprehensive suicide prevention program for veterans. Appropriates moneys.
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