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Huge Veterans Mental Health Wins in Federal Omnibus Bill

Mike Franklin and his dog Gracie

Mike Franklin with his beloved Gracie

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re staying warm.  I’ve got some amazing news to share today. NAMI Montana has been working since 2018 on Veterans Mental Health issues for the COVER Commission report which was published in January of 2020. Six of these issues were picked up in Dole Cleland section of the Omnibus bill. We worked with Emily Blair Rubright of Senator Moran’s office on the top four as she was drafting the GHAPS Act (Emily was previously with national NAMI)

  • Sec 192 – Recognize peer support in the VA’s healthcare accounting system
  • Sec. 191 – Improving treatment-resistant depression care in the VA
  • Sec. 181 – Paperwork Reduction Act Exclusion – cutting red tape for outcome analysis & research
  • Sec 193 – Gap analysis for psychotherapies being provided by the VA
  • Sec 152 – Rural veteran transportation analysis
  • Sec 153 – Telehealth analysis

We are really excited about all of these section, but Section 192 is flat out amazing.  It will help fully integrate veteran peer support throughout the Veterans Administration.

Section 191 has special meaning because we drafted it in memory of Mike Franklin. An Army/Navy Veteran who served as the Director of Counseling for Carroll College. Mike lost his battle with treatment-resistant depression in September of 2014. Mike was one of my dearest friends. He inspired our work on treatment-depression in the COVER Commission which helped spur the VA to better address this deadly condition. That work led to this critical part of the Act.

We also worked with Mrs. Blair Rubright on Section 182 which solves a critical conflict of interest issues that threatened to hollow out Veterans research around the country.

NAMI Montana advocated for a bipartisan agreement on these issues throughout the summer and into the fall. Senator Tester’s staff said all summer and fall that this legislation would make it in the omnibus. We are so grateful for their hard work to make that happen. Now it has. Hopefully, it will pass without issue.

Here is a link to the relevant sections.

Thank you so much to all of our amazing supporters that make our work with veterans possible, especially the Trans-Montana Charity Ride who specifically support our work in veterans and youth.


Have a wonderful Christmas,



Matt Kuntz, JD

Executive Director