Georgia Gov. Kemp signs law for veterans mental health grants

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Georgia is creating a $750,000 grant program to support mental health programs for military service members, veterans and their families through a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Georgia’s Department of Veterans Service will offer grants to nonprofit groups to provide mental health and addiction services to those groups under House Bill 414.

The Republican Kemp told a group of lawmakers and veterans at a state Capitol ceremony in Atlanta that the effort is modeled on a clinic in Hinesville, near Fort Stewart, that opened last year. The Cohen Family Clinic provides free services to military members, veterans and their families and is run by Aspire Health Partners. The Florida-based nonprofit runs a similar clinic in Tampa.

‘For far too long, many of those who have sacrificed so much for freedoms have struggled with mental health challenges in silence,’ Kemp said Tuesday. ‘Whether due to the stigma, or lack of resources, or any number of other obstacles, these heroes have been unable to receive the help they need and deserve.’

To win a grant, an applicant must show that it uses evidence-based practices, trains staff members to understand the military, and connects clients to other mental health services upon discharge. Priority will be given to locations within 50 miles of a military base.

Applications for grants are supposed to be available soon.

Kemp on Tuesday also signed Senate Bill 21, which overhauls the board of the Georgia Veterans Service Foundation, and House Bill 175, which creates a retired military license plate and allows disabled veterans to exempt their vehicle from taxation even if they don’t use the current disabled veteran plate.

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