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House Passes Bipartisan Solid Start Reporting Act Offered by Kelly, Mast

September 23, 2020

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Solid Start Reporting Act (H.R. 7747) as part of the Veterans COMPACT Act (H.R. 8247). The bipartisan Solid Start Reporting Act was introduced in July by Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL).

The Solid Start Reporting Act (H.R. 7747) establishes oversight baselines for the newly created Solid Start Program, a transition program designed to contact veterans three times during the first year following their departure from the service.

"Veterans often need a little extra support and encouragement as they transition to civilian life. From waking up to a less structured day to having to navigate the often- frustrating VA benefits system, veterans can feel alone or overwhelmed. This program seeks to support veteran mental health and has reportedly shown positive results already," said Congresswoman Robin Kelly, sponsor of H.R. 7747. "It's time for Congress to get in the game and support this program while providing Constitutionally-mandated oversight."

"For those who put on the uniform, the transition to civilian life is too often one of most difficult parts of serving their country. Proactively reaching out to veterans in their first year out of the service is a great way to make sure none of my brothers and sisters struggling with the invisible tolls of war fall through the cracks," Rep. Mast said. "It's my hope that this bill can make a real difference in easing this transition and help get veterans back on their feet."

"Today, the House passed key legislation to reduce veteran suicide including this bipartisan provision from Rep. Kelly that promotes connectedness throughout the transition from servicemember to civilian— an evidenced based strategy to help reduce veteran suicide. We need to ensure VA's innovative Solid Start program is working and has sufficient oversight, and Rep. Kelly's provision will help us do that," added Chairman Mark Takano.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently established the Solid Start Program which proactively contacts veterans, by phone and email, several times during the first year of their transition to civilian life. The program is based on research indicating that the first year out of service is a high-risk period for mental health challenges; these statistics hold true for all veterans, regardless of demographics.

The legislation requires an annual report on the program's effectiveness, including the number of veterans contacted; response rates; data on referrals for benefits compensation and pensions examinations and enrollments; and usage of the Veterans Crisis Line.