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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Democrats Present Bill to Raise PTSD Counseling, Care Funding

Great news to report on the PTSD legislation front. Sens. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii; John Kerry, Mass.; Frank Lautenberg, N.J.; and Hillary Rodham Clinton, N.Y. yesterday presented legislation to increase funding and provide appropriate counseling and benefits to combat veterans coping with PTSD.

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From the Army Times:

The bill, S 2500, the Healing the Invisible Wounds Act of 2006, aims to prevent the Bush administration from cutting disability benefits for veterans with combat stress and to improve counseling and readjustment services for National Guard and reserve members, sponsors said. ...

“Many of the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from some of the most severe physical injuries. However, even more of these brave service members have invisible wounds — difficulties with adjusting to not being on the battlefield or dealing with long-lasting visions and experiences that they encountered,” said Akaka, ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. ...

The bill includes $180 million extra for readjustment counseling and mental health services at Vet Centers, and a promise of one-on-one counseling for returning veterans in addition to group counseling.

Akaka said it’s important to ensure that that counseling and other help is available as soon as combat veterans return because “the transition period for these soldiers is extremely critical, so critical that it can, in some cases, mean the difference between short-term readjustment issues and severely chronic psychological conditions.”

Guard and reserve members can demobilize so rapidly after returning from deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan that “they sometimes do not receive or are overwhelmed by the benefits information they need,” Akaka said. That is why the bill requires counseling to be available within 14 days of returning from combat, and that service members be kept on active duty to receive counseling, he said.

I applaud these Senators and this legislation. If you'd like to join me in thanking them, please feel free to contact them and let them know they're doing a great job for our returning veterans.

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