SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – There’s a new effort to expand mental health care for Georgia’s veterans, military members and their families. Gov. Brian Kemp signed several bills this week aimed specifically at preventing suicide.

The measures will send more money to programs offering resources. One of those is the Steven A. Military Family Clinic in Hinesville, Georgia.

Belinda Sharp is the clinic director, and she was there alongside Georgia lawmakers Tuesday as House Bill 414 was signed into law. She says it comes at a time of great need.

“We’ve been here for a few months,” said Sharp. “We are seeing such an increase in the number of people who are requesting services.”

The clinic officially opened its doors in October of 2022, and since then, demand has continued to grow.

“The needs in the military community are growing, not just for themselves, but for their family members to have access to care,” Sharp said.

And places like this provide an opportunity not just for service members to seek help, but for their loved ones too.

“Having our door open for family members is a unique place in the military community because we allow that military member to define who family is,” said Sharp. “It might be their neighbor that’s their battle buddy or their best friend, and we’re going to take care of them as well.”

She says this legislation will have an impact here and across the Peach State, creating more access and helping to break down barriers in seeking this life-saving care.

“Legislation such as this can help to break down some of those barriers because, you know, as clinics are applying for it and they’re looking at it, they can develop different programs using it that might help to allow more access so that there would be less wait times for some of those needed services,” Sharp said.

Applications for grant funds will soon be available and behavioral health care providers that treat military service members and veterans are encouraged to apply.