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Friday, February 09, 2007

Capitol Hill Tackles Combat PTSD

  • News of the introduction of S 479, the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act by Sen. Tom Harkin [D-IA]. The bill focuses on "reducing the stigma of service members seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems and would provide 24-hour access to suicide counselors." In addition, "medical personnel and support staff at VA hospitals would receive more training in suicide prevention and education so they could identify veterans at risk."

  • Another bill introduced in the Senate, the Veterans Employment and Training (VET) Act of 2007, "would help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to transition into the civilian workforce by making short-term, high-cost training programs more affordable for them."

  • Meanwhile, S 117, the Lane Evans Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act, "requires the Department of Veterans Affairs' and the Department of Defense to share data for greater accountability for veterans returning home and entering the VA system; [extends] the window of time to allow new veterans to obtain mental health care from the VA from two years to five years, [and requires] face-to-face medical exams. Because Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health problems can take many years to manifest themselves, this bill would require the DOD to conduct in-person physical and mental health exams with every service member 30-90 days after deployment to a war zone to better identify and care for those at risk for PTSD."
Please contact your elected representatives and ask them to support these important measures.

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