You are on page 1of 11

Williams 1

Candy Arambula, Mariela Guerrero, Nhi Pham, Erin Williams

Texas Government 2306
Professor Killingsworth-Lee
24 November 2015
Soldiers fight for the freedoms we as Americans enjoy on a daily basis. They have to
endure some tragic situations in order to keep the ones they love safe. It is only natural that these
soldiers experience not only physical trauma, but mental as well. Who will rehabilitate the
wounds that are not easily seen? When they return home from duty, their families may have to
experience a different person from when they left. Who will help them cope?

Background of House Bill 19

Texas House Bill 19 is a preventative service and mental health program for veterans and
their families. State Representatives Susan King and Cindy Burkett developed the bill to be both
a preventative and current solution to the mental health dilemma faced by veterans. This program
will provide help to veterans who are struggling to live their lives as functioning members of
society. They will be given outlets for their aggressions and sorrow that will not endanger their
families or the public. There will be house visits to ensure that the families, as well as the
veterans are getting adequate care. These home visits will be able to determine if drastic
measures (such as hospitalization, medication, or removal from the home) are necessary. Close
connections to the community will be formed so that veterans and their families have an outlet
and a support system. This will ensure that veterans talk with others who may be experiencing
the same illnesses as them. Their families will also be able to talk with others who have dealt

Williams 2
with similar obstacles. Since being signed into action on June 6, 2015, this program has been put
into effect immediately.

Federal and State Mental Health

Since the beginning of the United States history, there has always been some form of
care for military veterans. From the early wars with the Native Americans to now, veterans have
had a system built to sustain them if they have been injured to a point of needing assistant for the
remainder of their lives. Whether it is financial, physical, or family care, the United States has
made sure to take care of the soldiers that have taken care of them. According to the Veterans
Affairs website, In 1811, the federal government authorized the first domiciliary and medical
facility for Veterans. Also in the 19th century, the nation's Veterans assistance program was
expanded to include benefits and pensions not only for Veterans, but for their widows and
dependents. ("About VA." History.) The Veterans Affairs website has a thorough history of
medical, housing, and financial benefits from the signing of the Servicemens Readjustment Act
(known as the G.I Bill) in 1944 to the Veterans Health Administration (known as the VHA). The
G.I Bill helped to establish attainable mortgages, help with tuition, and medical care for veterans
of World War II. After the influx of injured soldiers began to overtake the hospitals, the VHA
helped build more hospitals to specifically help wounded soldiers and veterans. Although mental
health was mentioned, it did not have as great of a detailed description as the other programs.
Not to say that mental health is cast aside from the regular programs but perhaps it does not
receive as much attention.

Williams 3
For the veterans who do receive mental care, they are not receiving adequate care. Mental
health for veterans may be a hard subject to tackle but it must be done if veterans are to return to
life outside of active duty. David J. Morris, a marine veteran and author published an article on
the Washington Post detailing his encounters with VA appointed therapists. In the article titled,
The VA treated my PTSD all Wrong he mentions:
Oddly, whenever I brought up the issues that bothered me the most the catastrophic
mismanagement of the war by the Bush administration, the pointless slaughter Id seen in
Fallujah, the casually bloodthirsty way Americans would talk about Iraq and about Arabs
in general my therapist would change the subject. (Morris)
Morris describes the encounters he had with other veterans and their experiences with their
therapists. It became apparent to him that most therapists were uncomfortable with bringing the
political side of war into the sessions. Somehow discussing the morality and why the war was
necessary was not equivalent to an ambush or regretting shooting someone. Morris,
understandably not satisfied with his care, soon left his VA appointed therapist. Limitations on
what veterans can talk about can hinder their growth. The VA should revise their policy if they
are to truly understand what is causing veterans mental stress.

As for the state of Texas, mental health and health in general seems to dim in comparison
to other states. Texas is considered a poor state, ranking 47th out of the 50 states. Due to its sheer
size, it is fact that there are millions of people living there. With millions of people, there is more
of a chance of people living without healthcare. Out of these millions of people, there are sure to
be hundreds of thousands of veterans taking up residence there. According to the Veterans Affairs
website, there are over a million veterans (both men and women) living in Texas. In the past,

Williams 4
Texas has tried to establish a program for Texans suffering with mental illnesses. According to
the International Journal of Mental Healths article, Public-Academic Collaboration in the
Application of Evidence-Based Practice in Texas Mental Health System Redesign:
In the midst of the redesign process, the Texas state legislature passed House Bill 2292
during the 2003 legislative session, requiring DSHS to develop and implement a system
of disease management for those whom been diagnoses of schizophrenia, bipolar
disorder, and major depression. (Cook, Ruggiero, Shore, Daggett, and Butler pg. 6)
Although this program was established specifically for mental health, it does not target veterans.
Veterans may need a program explicitly for them and their needs. Their families may also need
programs specifically dealing with stress of a mentally disturbed veteran or just a wounded
veteran. Perhaps someone will develop a service program for them.

The Authors
State Representatives Susan King and Cindy Burkett developed House Bill 19 for the
state of Texas. Susan filed the bill on March 13, 2015 to the Texas State Legislature. The bill,
which was sponsored by Donna Campbell, guided the bill through the Senate from May 21st
through the 24th. After being signed by the Governor Greg Abbott, the bill went into effect
Susan King belongs to the Republican Party and represents District 71. She is a
Conservative native to Houston but currently resides in Abilene with her husband. She is known
for serving on the House of Defense Committee and passing laws that relate to veterans and
human rights. Her development of HB 19 stems from concern for the veteran community.
Having a family of her own prompted her to include veteran families because they can

Williams 5
sometimes be overlooked with it comes to trauma. Cindy Burkett belongs to the Republican
Party and represents District 113. She is Conservative and belongs to several committees that
range from transportation to business. Her husband is an Air Force veteran and her involvement
in HB 19 is due to this. Sponsor Donna Campbell also belongs to the Republican Party and
belongs to District 25. She is also Conservative. Donna has an extensive career in the medical
field and is serving as the chair on the Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Committee. She
also served on many medical committees and served as Director for several hospitals. Being born
on a naval base and having a navy veteran as a father, she is familiar with their needs. Her love
for father and her medical background is what likely lead to her involvement with HB 19.

Components of the Bill

Mental devastation, sickness, feeling hopeless, and even having suicidal thoughts are known
to be all part of a veterans experience when coming home from war. These types of experiences
cannot only affect veterans, but their families as well. Having a family member endure active
duty and not come home the same, sometimes with suicidal thoughts and acts of violence, can
add stress to any home. Texas Representative, Susan Lewis King, states, HB 19 has been given
such a heightened legislative priority considering how much our military and their families and
veterans have done for us (Texas House of Representatives ). HB 19 establishes the help needed
for veterans departments such as Family and Protective Services, State Health Services, and the
Texas Veterans Commission.
Although King was able to implement the bill to help better the lives of veterans and their
families, the bill would not have passed without the funds provided. The Department of Family
and Protective services is required to perform new pilot statewide programs and to liaise the

Williams 6
program with local collaboration organizations and committees. Unfortunately, the state budget
will be negatively impacted by a bit over three million dollars through the end of August 2017,
The statewide pilot programs has a plan to implement the pilot program to nearly over a few
thousand families at an estimated cost of $1,666 per year, $3.6 through 2016-17 (Legislative
Budget Board). Though HB 19 may negatively impact the state budget by a few million, the
benefits for veterans are immense, The programs coordinated by the Department of Family and
Protective Services, consists of self-help guidance such as counseling, training, and harm
prevention (House Research Organization). Therefore, there should be no hesitation when
considering an investment toward this bill, even if it takes spending a few million dollars.
The house bill 19 has been an impact for veterans and their families in Texas. However, it is
common to say that not everyone has the same perspective. Like any other bill, HB 19 had its
supporters and opposition. This bill would not have been passed without the support of citizens
like Monique Rodriguez from the helping women veterans program, Grace After Fire. During the
interview with Paul Theobald, the committee director, mentioned that Lee Spiller with the
Citizens Commission on Human Rights was under the impression that this program would
promote medications he didnt agree with.

State Comparison
New Hampshires Senate Bill 298 establishes a permanent commission on post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Interestingly, there are no authors but
there are 11 sponsors! The main sponsor is Republican Sharon Carson and the co-sponsors are,
Republican Sam Cataldo, Republican Nancy Stiles, Republican Jeb Bradley, Democrat Lou
DAllesandro, Republican David Boutin, Democrat Lind Lauer, Republican Rick Ladd,

Williams 7
Republican Dick Marston, Democrat Kris Roberts, and Republican Alfred Baldasaro. SB 298
was introduced December 11, 2013 and was referred to the Executive Departments and
Administration, and then signed into law by the governor June 27, 2014. New Hampshires
reaction to SB 298 was pretty mum to nonexistent. Other than the official legislature website, not
many New Hampshire news outlets were reporting on the bill. The bill passed with no opposition
from both houses; an all aye vote with zero nays. In support of the bill was the Health and
Human Services Committee, which main sponsor Sharon Carson is a member of.
SB 298 and HB 19 are similar in a couple of ways. They both target veterans by using
mental health programs. However, SB 298 wants to conduct research on mental illnesses
whereas HB 19 just has a preventative program for it. Researching mental illnesses such as
PTSD and how it can affect a veteran specifically will help institute better programs for it. For
example, if it was discovered in a study that veterans with PTSD respond well with group
therapy sessions with similar patients, then this new discovery will establish more group
sessions. Another similarity is that both bills will look to the community to ensure that those
within it will get the help they need. In contrast, HB 19 is a preventative program where SB 289
will study existing mental health problems, such as TBI. TBI can cause a variety of mental health
defects such as change in personality, loss of bodily functions or movements, to increased
aggression. With HB 19, it could be a number of reasons why a veteran is experiencing mental
dilemmas; be it a traumatic experience or an accidental injury. The problem may not be
identified right away but precautions are made to make certain that their mental illness does not
escalate in a way that would put them or those around them in danger. It cannot be said for sure
if New Hampshire is changed for the better since the implementation of SB 298 over a year ago
but it is the start of some amazing things to come in the field of mental health. SB 298 will no

Williams 8
doubt start a multitude of new studies and with new studies, who knows; maybe a medical
breakthrough is just around the corner.
Journey of the bill
The process of HB 19 going through the 84th legislature started with being filed on March
13, 2015. The author of the bill is Susan King and the co-author is Cindy Burkett, followed by
the sponsoring of the bill by Donna Campbell. It was then taken into consideration in reading for
the first time on March 16, 2015. Later that day around 2 p.m., it was referred to the Defense and
Veterans Affairs. Twice after consideration into public hearing, the bill report was sent to the
Calendars committee on May 1, 2015. It was then read for the second time on May 8, 2015, a
day where Susan King also amended the bill. After the third and final reading, HB 19 was passed
through on May 11, 2015. It was first introduced to the chamber of the House, with 5 ayes and 2
Once the bill was passed through the House chamber, it was introduced into the Senate
chamber before being passed down to the Veteran Affairs & Military Installations committee on
May 14, 2015. It was then read for the second and third time on May 24, 2015 with 5 Ayes and 2
absent to vote; the bill was then passed. The governor then signed on June 6, 2015, making the
bill official and putting it into effect immediately. Overall, the bill did not have any
complications going the Texas State Legislature during its three-month journey.

Group Analysis

Williams 9
HB 19 will make a great make impact on Texans by providing mental health programs to
those who have not received the right care and or benefits through other types of veteran
programs. It will help to improve the lives of our veterans, as well as their families, financially,
emotionally and physically. According to a Texas Tribune article; providing funds to the mental
health programs grants for the veterans passed a similar bill that are not or not sufficiently
receiving the help they need. Gov. Rick Perry mentioned, This unique public-private
partnership represents an opportunity for the State of Texas, private donors and local
communities to work together to create enduring solutions for addressing mental health needs for
Texas veterans and their families (The Texas Tribune).
Going FOR HB 19 helped us get a better understanding about what our own Texas
veterans have to face on a daily basis. No one who has fought for our country should have to
return to an environment that is not willing to make the sacrifices they have made in order to
help them. Our veterans need all the help they can get when they return home because combat
can change anyone. Also, the families of these veterans need a helping hand as well. The love of
family is necessary but it is hard work nursing someone back to full health. Families also need an
outlet just like veterans. Day by day, veterans risk their lives for the freedom and rights of our
country. They deserve nothing but benefits and services geared towards them. Therefore, it is fair
that we raise awareness of their needs. Our veterans should feel appreciated for their job in
combat and keeping us safe.
Now that HB 19 is law, government agencies, such as the VA should consider reviewing
the therapists they hire. Experiences like Morris should never be the standard when it comes to
mental therapy sessions. This sort of experience may push veterans to bottle up their emotions
for fear of being rejected. Lawmakers should consider involve veterans in the law making

Williams 10
process. Having a veteran consultant can guarantee that veterans have input on an issue that
affects their daily lives. Lastly, veteran support groups in Texas should implement a buddy
system for the dependents. Talking with adults may not always be easy for younger family
members but maybe a person near in age could help them open up more about home issues.
Weekly to monthly meetings will help establish a bond that can last throughout a lifetime.

Works Cited Page

Williams 11
Affairs., Department. 'History - VA History - About VA'. N.p., 2015. Web. 20
Nov. 2015.
Cook, Judith, Karen Ruggiero, Sam Shore, Pamela Daggett, and Sarah Butler. "PublicAcademic Collaboration in the Application of Evidence-Based Practice in Texas Mental
Health System Redesign." International Journal of Mental Health (2007): 36-49. Print.
Web. 8 November 2015
Glasgow, Dorothy. 'Veteran Population - National Center For Veterans Analysis And
Statistics'. N.p., 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.,. N.p., 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
Estaville, Lawrence E., Egan, Kristine, and Galaviz, Abel. Texas Health Atlas. College
Station, TX, USA: Texas A&M University Press, 2012. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 8
November 2015.,. 'SB 0298'. N.p., 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.,. 'Here's What We Believe'. N.p., 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.,. 'Texas Legislature Online - 84(R) Text For HB 19'. N.p., 2015. Web. 20
Nov. 2015.
Morris, David. 'The VA Treated My PTSD All Wrong'. Washington Post. N.p., 2015.
Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
Open States,. 'SB 298 - New Hampshire 2014 Regular Session - Open States'. N.p., 2015.
Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
Representatives, George. 'Texas House Of Representatives'. N.p., 2015.
Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
The Texas Tribune,. 'Texas Legislative Guide | The Texas Tribune'. N.p., 2015. Web. 20
Nov. 2015.