WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Angus King (I-ME), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and U.S. Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA-06) and Seth Moulton (D-MA-06) today introduced a resolution to establish “Vets Get Outside Day” to support veterans struggling with mental health challenges. Nearly 460,000 veterans were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries between 2020 and 2022, and there were 6,146 veteran suicide deaths in 2020.
“We owe it to the men and women who traveled oceans to protect us to address the veteran suicide crisis,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Vets Get Outside Day is a positive step towards ensuring veterans know they have the help they need available to them.”
“From beach walks to fishing trips to simply hearing a refreshing breeze in the forest, America’s extraordinary outdoor spaces can bring moments of calm during the most difficult times,” said Senator King. “I hope that ‘Vets Get Outside Day’ this year will encourage our veterans to find a relaxing outdoor space near them. It’s a simple way to promote the great outdoors and help these brave men and women who may be struggling with mental health conditions.”
“Fresh air and nature are often the best medicine, and there’s no better place to take advantage of outdoor opportunities than North Dakota. To combat veteran suicides, our resolution recognizes the positive impacts nature therapies can have on our veterans,” said Senator Cramer.
“Veterans Get Outside Day encourages Veterans to experience the outdoors and engage in recreational activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, and hunting, and ultimately promote a passion for the outdoors. Studies show that nature-based therapy can work. I’m proud to join Congressman Moulton in introducing this resolution to support our Veterans,” said Representative Graves.
“Veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and many face unique, lifelong health challenges as a result of their service. As a Marine veteran, I know firsthand how healing simply spending time outdoors can be. The moments where I can go on a long run or spend time on the water are sacred,” said Representative Moulton. “I’m proud to partner with my House and Senate colleagues to designate Vets Get Outside Day. This is a great way to remind every veteran to do something healing for themselves; and it’s another important step toward destigmatizing the national conversation around mental health. We are all in this together, and together we can build a community that leads the way on changing how we talk about mental health.”
The resolution calls on veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges to walk, run, hike, bike ride, or simply spend time outside on June 10, 2023 as part of an effort to battle mental illness. A goal of the effort is to encourage follow-on therapy available through various non-profits that specialize in nature therapies.
Veterans in crisis can dial 9-8-8 and then press 1 to be connected with the Veterans Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Read the full resolution here.
Last year, the Senate unanimously passed Cassidy’s Solid Start Act to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Solid Start program to contact every veteran three times by phone in the first year after they leave active duty. The program helps connect veterans with VA programs and benefits, including mental health resources.
Cassidy also introduced the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 to reauthorize and improve Cassidy’s historic 2016 mental health reform package.