Senate passes Wilson’s Mental Health For Heroes Act

The state Senate today unanimously passed Sen. Lynda Wilson’s bill to help veterans attending a four-year university or college in Washington who are in need of mental-health counseling.

Senate Bill 5525 would require each of Washington’s four-year higher education institutions – University of Washington, Washington State University, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Western Washington University and The Evergreen State College – to employ at least one full-time mental health counselor with active experience working with veterans, active military personnel or their families. The Senate passed the bill 47-0.

“Many sacrifices are made when one chooses the life of service in the military, some are visible…many are not,” said Wilson, R-Vancouver, whose father served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. “We have about 5,000 veterans in Washington’s four-year universities today. Veterans and their families have very unique needs, such as mental trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder caused by combat action. As these folks transition back into civilian life, it is important that there be someone available with specialized experience dealing with the unique issues they face.

“These counselors can help our veteran heroes and their families assess their needs and offer evaluations that will help them,” added Wilson, who noted that veterans are at a higher risk for suicide.

SB 5525 returns to the House of Representatives for consideration. Last year, the Senate also passed the proposal 47-0, but it was not approved by the House before the session ended.