Under new bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Barak Obama, Kit Bond, and other senators, active and reserve service m embers would be eligible for m ental health counseling from one of the 207 veterans’ centers operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill would extend military survivor benefits in cases of suicides among service members with a history of service-related mental health problems, an unprecedented policy change that would extend active-duty survivor benefits beyond the end of service for those who are not receriving retired pay.
According to Senator Bond, the bill “not only opens the door to additional resoruces but also lightens the load on our currently over-tasked specialists. There are grossly insufficient numbers of military behavioral health specialists t provide care ou troops need.” An interesting item in the bill provides incentives for veteran to become mental health specialists.
It is wonderful that finally mental health care issues for soldiers and veterans is beginning to receive the attention of Congress, but, isn’t there need for a congressional investigation into failure on the part of the Bush administration to address these issues over the past seven years?
Posted in Barack Obama, Conservatives, Democrats, Human Rights, Iraq War, Military, Peace, Politics, Republicans, United States, War, World News
Tagged active service, mental health, VA, Veterans
Service members told Congress that mental health care for post-traumatic stress disorder is good– if they can get it. In one case, a suicidal soldier asked for help and got it, in another, a soldier deployed to Iraq asked for help, and when it was denied, he killed himself. Military medical personnel told Congress there are many issues hampering the development of an effective PTS progrm including recruiting and retaining mental health providers, educating officers about symptoms and causes of suicide, and finding proper tretment for PTSD. Ward Casscells, assistant defense secretary for health affair, insisted there still remained many problems, “treatment is a struggle. We don’t know vey wll what treatments work.”
The father of Pfc. Jason Scheuerman, had to file Freedom of Information requests to finally obtained information about the death of his son. A chaplalin said in a sworn statement that he believed Jason “obsessed with suicide” but the brigade psychologist thought the troubled young man was engaged in some form of manipulation to get out of combat. Jason committed suicide. Major Bruce Gannaway lost his foot in Iraq and was evaluted at Walter Reed Army Hospital for mental health issues while under heavy medication.
The Congressmen heard numerous stories and incidents of members of the military who fought in combat only to be denied proper mental health assistance. the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are among the strangest in American history. The invasion of Iraq was based on a Bush lie and subsequent efforts have been characterized by incompetence and inability to find the right political and military policies. These are not wars in which soldiers have a clear rationale why they are fighting. There is insufficient military personnel available to handle the fighting so the same men and women must return for one deployment after another. Is it any wonder many feel emotional stress?
Posted in Democrats, Human Rights, Iraq War, Liberals, Military, Peace, Politics, Republicans, United States, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged congress, mental health, PSTD
The United States Army has been attempting over the past few years to address issues that lead members of the military to kill themselves, but the latest figures indicate success is far from an accomplished goal. As many as 121 soldiers commtted suicide in 2007 wich is an increase of 20% over the figures for 2006. The number who have tried to commit sicide or injured themselves for some other reason jumped six-fold in the last several years– from 350 in 2002 to about 2,100 incidents last year. These incidents come despite a host of efforts to improvemental health care that arises from being deployed and redeployed over an extended period of time. According to Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, “We have been perturbed by the rise despite all of our efforts.”
Statistically, the rate of suicide per 100,000 men has risen from a low of 9.1% in 2001 to a high of 17.5% in 2006. Most probably long extended separation from spouse, children and family has been a factor resulting in attempts at suicide. Orindarily, people don’t attempt suicide as a result of direct encounter with combat, but it more often occurs during periods of depression brought on by personal and family issues.
Senator John McCain recently said American troops might be in the Middle East for about another “100 years.” If so, we can expect continued mental health issues.