NC House Approves “No Veteran Left Behind Act”
Raleigh, NC – Today, the state House unanimously approved the No Veteran Left Behind Act (HB 370), which seeks to help law enforcement better serve veterans who are dealing with mental health and substance abuse emergencies. A group of severely wounded veterans attended the House session and were honored by the lawmakers during the bill's consideration.
In conjunction with North Carolina-based, The Independence Fund, the No Veteran Left Behind Act will launch a pilot project across the state to provide additional training for law enforcement to help improve interactions between first responders and veterans in crisis.
“We’re very excited to partner with such a great organization like The Independence Fund, which has a proven-track record of assisting veterans and their families,” said primary bill sponsor, House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne). “Through our early conversations, we realized we had a shared goal for helping our veterans and we identified a few areas of need in North Carolina. This includes the No Veteran Left Behind Act, which will better equip law enforcement personnel with the necessary tools to assist veterans in crisis.”
The initial pilot program will include the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Sheriff's Departments in Brunswick, Chatham, Craven, Cumberland, McDowell, Nash, Onslow, Union, and Wayne Counties.
“As a thirty-three year law enforcement veteran, this is a much-needed bill that will be a great benefit to local communities,” said Rep. Charlie Miller (R-Brunswick), who is a primary bill sponsor and the Chief Deputy of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. “I have personally dealt with situations where this training would have been very helpful. I want to thank The Independence Fund for their partnership in this effort to provide law enforcement with additional tools to assist veterans.”
Under the bill, The Independence Fund will provide additional education and training so that a mental health emergency is not criminalized, but rather the situation is deescalated, and the veteran is connected with help and support.
The bill now goes to the NC Senate for further consideration.