Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veteran’ Affairs, released the following statement after President Barack Obama announced executive actions to help servicemembers, veterans and their families.

“Today’s announcement by President Obama is a critical step at a pivotal time as we continue to battle the invisible wounds of war. With an estimated twenty-two veterans committing suicide each and every day, improving and expanding access to coordinated mental health care is vital.

“In addition to building on my Mental Health ACCESS Act, I commend the Administration for taking action today to ensure our nation’s heroes and their families have access to high-quality education and utilize the financial and home loan-related protections available to them.

“Our servicemembers, veterans and their families have faced unprecedented challenges including multiple deployments, difficulty finding a job here at home, and isolation in their communities.  And as we have seen with the release of the VA Inspector General’s report out of Phoenix today, there are many more problems we have to address and I am hopeful the Administration, the VA and Congress will continue to build on our recent bipartisan momentum in order to ensure our men and women in uniform receive the care and benefits they deserve.”

Making mental health a top priority during her time as Chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Murray’s Mental Health ACCESS Act was signed into law by President Obama as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The ACCESS Act creates a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program; expands eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs mental health services to family members; strengthens oversight of DoD Mental Health Care and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES); improves training and education for health care providers; creates more peer-to-peer counseling opportunities; and requires VA to establish accurate and reliable measures for mental health services.