Thursday, December 6, 2012

Defense Bill Could Help Troops' Mental Health

The National Defense Authorization Act just passed by the U.S. Senate includes several new provisions affecting mental health care. The bill will allow family members to access some Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health services, for example, and will increase oversight of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System jointly established by the Department of Defense and the VA.

In addition, the act includes an amendment proposed by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) requiring the Pentagon “to implement a standardized and comprehensive suicide prevention program.”

The number of suicides by active-duty troops had risen to 166 by October 31, 2012, more than the total number for all of 2011. “[T]his amendment seeks to reduce wait times and improve access to mental health care; ensure proper diagnosis; and achieve true coordination of care and information between the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs,” said Murray in a statement. The House of Representative must now vote on the bill.

To read more about military-related mental health issues, see Psychiatric News  here and here.

(Image: Oleg Zabielin/


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