12.03.20

Whitehouse Legislation to Support Mental Health Needs of Veterans Named in Honor of Johnston Native Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Harvey Jr.

Bipartisan bill would create pilot program to better support veterans transitioning to civilian life

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has introduced bipartisan legislation to better support the mental health needs of servicemembers and veterans as they return home. The Daniel J. Harvey Jr. and Adam Lambert Improving Servicemember Transition to Reduce Veteran Suicide Act would create a new pilot program embedded in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to provide more robust counsel to servicemembers about mental health and services available at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. The bill was named to honor the memory of two Marines who lost their lives to post-traumatic stress disorder—one of whom was Johnston native Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Harvey Jr., a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan and passed away in 2015 at the age of 22.

“Johnston’s own Lance Corporal Daniel Harvey Jr. was a hero to Rhode Islanders and to our nation. Our community lost Lance Corporal Harvey long before his time,” said Whitehouse. “We have to do better by servicemembers who return home bearing invisible wounds of war. Every veteran should have easy access to the very best care—for both mental and physical health—that this nation has to offer.”

Harvey attended Johnston High School, where he was captain of the Johnston/North Providence co-op hockey team. He graduated in 2010 and enlisted in the Marines.

The legislation would establish a pilot program at ten different Transition Assistance Center locations. As part of the pilot, TAP counseling would include discussion related to possible loss of community or identity crises while transitioning to civilian life. Servicemembers would be provided with information regarding the mental health programs and benefits available at their local VA facility. The legislation would require a social worker or mental health professional from a servicemember’s local VA to be in touch within 90 days of transitioning to set up an appointment. The Secretaries of Defense and VA would assess whether to expand the pilot program after five years.

Fifteen veterans in Rhode Island lost their lives to suicide in 2018, according to the VA. The Daniel J. Harvey Jr. and Adam Lambert Improving Servicemember Transition to Reduce Veteran Suicide Act is also sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Joni Ernst (R-IA).