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Florida Senator Pushes Mental Health Hotline For Veterans

A woman wearing several silver rings uses a smartphone
Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
The Florida Military and Veterans Affairs committee is backing a bill to make sure mental health services for veterans are just a phone call away.

For veterans, mental health struggles aren’t unusual. But Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) says for many, COVID-19 has made addressing those mental health concerns more difficult.

"Not only do they have the challenges from PTSD frequently, reintegrating back into our communities, but today with COVID the isolation that people feel and the difficulty that there is makes it even more difficult for them," Harrell says.

Now, Harrell wants to ensure getting help is as simple as picking up the phone. She’s sponsoring a bill that creates a statewide program to let veterans dial a dedicated support line staffed by their peers. It will help get those veterans linked up with the services they need.

“Having that peer-to-peer support is absolutely key, and the coordination of services and follow up will make such a difference. This is 2-1-1 on steroids, specifically geared for veterans,” Harrell says

Harrell’s bill extends a pilot program that is already in place in several Florida counties. Her measure got the go-ahead Tuesday from the Senate committee on Military and Veterans Affairs.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy covers healthcare and government in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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