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8/14/2014

Governor Corbett Continues Commitment to PA Veterans; Ceremonially Signs Bill to Expand Access to Behavioral Health Services for Military Personnel and their Families

News for Immediate Release

Aug. 14, 2014

Blue Bell - Governor Tom Corbett today ceremonially signed legislation expanding access to behavioral health services for military personnel and their families.

Sponsored by Representative Kate Harper (R-Montgomery), House Bill 43 amends the Volunteer Health Services Act to allow volunteer licensees to provide mental health services in approved clinics for military personnel and their families.

“Today we are re-affirming that not all devastating injuries our wounded warriors experience can be seen,” Gov. Corbett said. “It’s those unseen injuries that plague far too many of our veterans and this legislation expands access to the crucial services needed to help them heal.

“HB 43 is a demonstration of Pennsylvania’s commitment to our military men and women by making certain they get the behavioral health services they need, and that our basic sense of decency demands we provide.”

The bill also permits volunteer licensees to provide mental health services to military personnel and their families outside of approved clinics upon referral from approved organizations.

The legislation also permits psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and professional counselors to obtain a volunteer license.

The legislation will allow non-profit organizations like “Give an Hour,” a volunteer program which encourages mental health professionals to give an hour of their time every week to provide free services to the military and their families, to operate in Pennsylvania.

“This law is a small but important effort to make sure that our returning veterans and their families get what they need from us – the citizens for whom they have put their lives on the line and sacrificed so much,” said Rep. Harper. 

“Allowing the ‘Give An Hour’ program to operate in Pennsylvania will make mental health care more accessible to these men and woman, and I am pleased to have worked with Dr. John Valentine of Blue Bell, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf and now Gov. Corbett to make this a reality.”

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) hosted the event.

Joining Gov. Corbett at the ceremony were Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery), Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery), Rep. Matthew Bradford (D-Montgomery) and Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) . Gov. Corbett was also joined by Pennsylvania Adjunct General Wesley Craig, MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout and Dr. John Valentine, who worked with Rep. Harper on the legislation.

To read the full text of the legislation, visit the General Assembly’s website at www.legis.state.pa.us. Governor Corbett originally signed the bill on July 2, 2014.

Media contact:  Owen McEvoy, 717-783-1116

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