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Stabenow, Peters, Share their Distinguished Guests for the State of the Union

Michigan Business Network
February 6, 2023 4:00 PM

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Senator Stabenow Announces Bob Sheehan, Community Mental Health Association Chief Executive Officer, as her State of the Union Guest

Peters Announces Local Veteran and Advocate as Guest for 2023 State of the Union 

Sheehan Advocated for Mental Health and Addiction Transformation in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act 

Sheehan Will Travel to D.C. to Attend State of the Union 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced that her guest for the 2023 State of the Union address will be Bob Sheehan, the CEO of Community Mental Health Association of Michigan. Sheehan leads important work educating and advocating for mental health, addiction, and disability support services for people in Michigan. 

Last year, Senator Stabenow led the passage of the transformational initiative to fully-fund high quality mental health and addiction services through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. Due to the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, every state and the District of Columbia can expand transformational behavioral health support to their residents. Michigan began participating in Stabenow’s behavioral health initiative in 2021.  

“Bob has been instrumental in getting Michigan residents the care they need for many years. Thanks to his support and the work of providers and advocates across Michigan, our mental health care and addiction initiative is a proven success story and is transforming mental health and addiction treatment across our country. Now, every state will be able to join and make sure health care above the neck is funded the same way as health care below the neck. Because of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, help through our highly successful clinics will begin to reach people in every corner of our country,” said Senator Stabenow. 

“I am honored to be Senator Stabenow’s guest at the 2023 State of the Union. The honor centers around my admiration of and appreciation for Senator Stabenow in light of her given her decades long commitment to the mental health of Americans,” said Bob Sheehan, CEO of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan. “Her tireless support for a strong, accessible, and innovative mental health system – in her current role as Michigan’s senior United States Senator, as a Congresswoman, State Senator, State Representative, and when I first met her, as a county commissioner – is unmatched. Senator Stabenow has had the vision, courage, political acumen to achieve what many thought impossible. Her work authoring and leading the passage of the Excellence in Mental Health Act fulfilled the dream of President Kennedy when he signed the Community Mental Health Act in 1963.”  

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics are required to provide a comprehensive set of services including 24/7/365 crisis services; outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services; immediate screenings, risk assessments, and diagnoses; and care coordination including partnerships with emergency rooms, law enforcement, and veterans’groups. 

Data from intake to most recent reassessment for individuals served in the program demonstrate that as of March 2022, clients have a:

•         72% reduction in hospitalization

•         69% reduction in Emergency Department visits 

Also, 84% of these clinics either already provide direct services on-site at elementary, middle, and high schools or plan to in the future. 


Peters, Hensley to Highlight How the Honoring Our PACT Act Supports Toxic-Exposed Veterans by Delivering VA Health Care and Benefits for First Time in Our Nation’s History

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that Kevin Hensley — an Air Force veteran, BurnPit360 Advocate, and Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Committee Member, State of Michigan — will be his guest for President Biden’s State of the Union Address Tuesday, February 7. Peters and Hensley will highlight the new VA benefits now available to veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals during their service. Peters helped enact into law the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act – while Hensley advocated for the law’s passage on Capitol Hill. The PACT Act will deliver VA health care and benefits to all generations of toxic-exposed veterans — and their survivors — for the first time in our nation’s history. 


“Kevin Hensley is a hero whose story of service and sacrifice is inspiring and worthy of recognition. Many of our nation’s veterans, including Kevin, are suffering as a result of being exposed to harmful substances like Agent Orange or toxic burn pits during their service,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “I was proud to help pass the Honoring Our PACT Act into law to finally ensure these veterans, along with their survivors, can obtain their long-overdue health care and benefits through the VA – and I’m honored Kevin will join me to help spread the word about how veterans can now apply to receive those benefits by visiting the VA’s website.”  

“We are family by tragedy, advocating for triumph,” said Kevin Hensley. “That’s the motto my fellow veterans and I, along with our families and loved ones, carried with us through the halls of Congress as we advocated for the passage of the PACT Act and proudly saw it signed into law – all while battling the impacts of toxic exposure during our service. I’m honored to join Senator Peters for this year’s State of the Union to raise awareness about the PACT Act and bring with me the memory and strength of those I’ve been fortunate enough to serve and advocate alongside. I join the Senator’s call for Michigan veterans to apply for the benefits they have earned because a promise made is a promise kept.” 


Kevin Hensley, of Trenton, Michigan, served in the United States Air Force for 20 years as a Security Forces NCO. While serving in the Air Force, Hensley operated open-air burn pits during four of his eight deployments to the Middle East. In 2017, Hensley was diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis, a terminal lung disease that requires him to wear a portable oxygen concentrator to assist his breathing. Hensley has worked with the VFW to advocate for the passing of the PACT Act and worked with notable supporters, including comedian and veterans advocate Jon Stewart. Following the passage of the PACT Act, Peters and Hensley participated in a press conference in Flint to raise awareness of the new law and encourage veterans to apply for benefits they have earned. 


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