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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Colorado State Senate Supports Funding OEF/OIF Family Mental Healthcare

With far too many military families coping on their own with reintegration issues after their loved one has seen combat, some veterans even slipping through the cracks while families are left to pick up the pieces, the Colorado state senate has agreed to fund a pilot program aimed at providing mental healthcare access for those who literally provide support for our troops: military families.

From the Associated Press:

The proposal (Senate Bill 146 - pdf) would set up a three-year pilot program in Colorado Springs to provide mental health treatment and education to the families of veterans who cannot get services on their own. ...

Veterans are still eligible to receive mental health care through the military after they leave the service, but their families are not, said Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, the sponsor. He said if spouses and children get counseling, veterans might be encouraged to do the same.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more details...

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

[The bill] would create a three-year program in the Pikes Peak region before expanding it to the rest of the state if it is successful. ... Freshman Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, proposed the mental health services program after a voter told him about the need to help veterans returning from combat.

The bill doesn’t address the actual veterans, who are covered by Veterans Administration services even after they leave the military, but seeks to help the spouses and children who might be dealing with men and women reluctant to go to counseling. About 100 families a year would be allowed to receive these services from Springs-area providers after paying $20.

“If the federal government was really stepping up to the plate and supporting our troops, we wouldn’t need this. But they’re not,” Morse said after the hearing. “The federal government, in my view — and this is just an opinion — is not as focused on the families of veterans as they ought to be.”

Morse said the program may be up and running as early as July 1, and has an annual cost of about $300,000. Funding would come from tobacco settlement monies.

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