We Must Reduce Veterans’ Suicides
Major federal investments have improved access to mental health care, but Veterans and service members need more treatment options. Despite decades of promising research and more than $1.1 billion spent on clinical trials, no new drugs for PTS and TBI have successfully advanced through clinical trials to achieve FDA approval. And the research pipeline for new devices and therapies is thin as many pharmaceutical companies long ago abandoned research into PTS and TBI.
Complex problems require a new approach, one that forgoes traditional silos and embraces collaborative science conducted to the highest standards of quality and with an openness and willingness to share data towards a common goal.
How Congress Can Help Close the Research Gaps to More Effectively Address the Invisible Wounds
Develop high-quality brain trauma therapies for Veterans
Veterans and service members have earned the right to world-class health care, but doctors have too few effective treatment options; too many Veterans are resistant to all available treatments, in part due to the underlying biology of the disorder.
Congress should help researchers develop evidence-based therapies tested and proven to work in rigorous, randomized clinical trials.
Adopt collaborative research roadmaps
The VA and DoD have many outstanding assets and institutional strengths and can become leading partners in delivering new precision medicine approaches for the invisible wounds of war. Several collaborative initiatives have outlined gaps in the current knowledge and recommendations to move the research forward.
Congress should compel the VA and DoD to implement these existing roadmaps and develop a cohesive research strategy for the invisible wounds that builds on expanded public-private partnerships.
Increase the body of evidence on emerging therapeutic solutions
When available treatment options fail, many Veterans feel resigned to take their mental health care into their own hands and turn to alternative treatments with little clinical guidance.
Congress should direct the VA and DoD to demonstrate conclusively whether emerging treatments such as psychedelics, stellate ganglion block and hyperbaric oxygen therapy work and in which populations.
Ensure full implementation of important mental health legislation
Bicameral and bipartisan ground breaking legislation, such as the Commander John Scott Hannon Mental Health Act, have been passed by every administration over the last 30 years, with little oversight into their implementation.
Congress should ensure full implementation of the Commander John Scott Hannon Mental Health Act, and especially on Sections 305, 306, 704, and 705, which created new tools for the VA to support leading-edge research.