The Honorable Debra Ferguson
Virginia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Services
Dear Ms. Ferguson,
As Chairman of the Heath, Welfare and Institutions Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates, I am writing in regard to HB 2305, introduced by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn during the 2015 General Assembly Session. It has come to my attention that the need to coordinate services between our local Community Services Boards and Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals is of the utmost importance and need for review.
Delegate Filler-Corn’s introduced legislation would have required community services boards and behavioral health authorities to designate a member of staff to coordinate the delivery of mental health services for veterans. This would have included crisis services to veterans in cooperation with the Department of Veterans Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and hospitals, centers and other facilities or installations of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The goal of HB 2305 was to improve our current system of collaboration between private hospitals and VA hospitals and support crisis response clinicians to collaborate with veterans to meet their needs. While many CSBs already practice this, HB 2305 looked to take another step forward in preventing a coverage or information gap that could be made available to a veteran looking for care and treatment.
We currently have 781,000 veterans in Virginia with that number only expected to increase in the coming years. Every important change to our mental health system takes incremental steps forward, which I believe was this bill’s intention.
This idea also comes from the Governor’s Taskforce on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response, which worked diligently to approve 25 recommendations to help expand access to Virginians with mental health needs and to improve quality of services throughout the Commonwealth. Care for our veterans is one of the most important things that we as a Commonwealth, legislators and society can do for those who have sacrificed so much to ensure our safety and liberty.
In lieu of engrossed legislation, it was the will of the Committee and Delegate Filler-Corn that I send a letter emphasizing the importance of the intent of this legislation to your attention. It will be of my and the Committee’s interest to hear about any progress made in this regard. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.
Robert D. Orrock, Sr.
Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee