WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Alaska Congressman Don Young helped introduce the bipartisan Supporting Every at-Risk Veteran In Critical Emergencies (SERVICE) Act. The SERVICE Act creates a pilot program within the Department of Justice to provide grants to law enforcement agencies to create local veteran response teams — teams of military veteran law enforcement officers that respond to other veterans who may be in crisis or experiencing a mental health emergency. Once the situation is under control, response teams are empowered to work further with the veteran to connect them with resources to help them find long term solutions for issues such as homelessness, mental health, addiction, and more.
“My fellow veterans put their lives on the line for this great country, and we must be doing all that we can to ensure they are supported in civilian life,” said Congressman Don Young. “Research shows that when veterans find themselves in crisis, the most effective people who can respond to them are other veterans. Veterans are more likely to have feelings of suicide, die from an accidental overdose, or become homeless. For the well-being of both our veterans and law enforcement, our communities must be properly equipped to support our heroes. The Cincinnati Police Department’s ‘Military Liaison Group,’ created by Sergeant Dave Corlett, has been highly successful in the cause of helping veterans in need. When police departments can send teams of veterans to respond to other veterans in crisis, tense situations can de-escalate, and lives can be saved. Beyond the initial law enforcement response, programs like these can help get our veterans off the street and into employment. I am proud to help introduce the SERVICE Act, which creates funding through the Department of Justice to expand these vital programs nationwide. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our freedom and way of life. In Congress, I will always stand up for the success of our heroes.”
“All too often, veterans who have survived combat and have trouble readjusting to civilian life find themselves in conflict with the law. Their unexplained, volatile hostile actions provoke a defensive response from law enforcement, often resulting in the loss of life,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “Vietnam Veterans of America fully supports the Supporting Every at-Risk Veteran In Critical Emergencies Act of 2021. We know from experience that a veteran is more likely to respond to a fellow veteran in time of crisis. A Veteran Response Team trained in mental health would arm the judicial system with a mechanism to intervene on behalf of the veteran struggling with readjustment to civilian life, and most important, it will save lives.”
To read full bill text, click here.