The Solid Start Act to connect veterans with the Department of Veterans Affairs as they transition to civilian life, has been signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Sponsored by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), the bill makes permanent the Solid Start pilot program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), through which the VA contacts veterans multiple times by phone in the first year after they leave service to check in and help connect them to programs and benefits.
In 2017, among veterans who died by suicide, 62% had not been in contact with the Veterans Health Administration in the preceding two years, and 40% of veterans responding to a recent survey by the American Legion were not sure whether they were eligible for VA mental health services.
Although the Senate passed Slotkin’s bill by unanimous consent last month, a group of House Republicans had threatened to vote the bill down over a provision they contended authorized payment for abortion services. They eventually backed down after Slotkin took to the House floor and in a blistering speech accused them of placing politics above veterans.
The bill has been endorsed by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).