Friday, March 6, 2009

Double-shift: Tom's a legislatin'

Within his first month of service, Rep. Perriello co-authored a bill that was passed and funded for $13 billion dollars. Well, Tom's at it again.

In a bipartisan effort, along with Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL) and Michael McMahon (D-NY), Tom introduced a new bill to reduce the number of suicides among our soldiers and veterans. From their press release:
Currently, the Department of Defense requires service members to fill out a mental health assessment before returning home. Unfortunately, if this subjective paper assessment is filled out honestly and indicates risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or depression, the service member may be prevented from returning home in order to ensure that the mental condition does not go untreated. The delay in returning home coupled with the stigma associated with reaching out for help to treat a mental injury prevents soldiers from being honest in their assessments. A mandatory screening for all service members can reduce the growing rates of suicides amongst service members while fighting this debilitating stigma.
Money quote from Tom, emphasis original:
“With the Army reporting the highest number of soldier suicides in 28 years, we can no longer afford to keep mental health screening in the shadows,” said Rep. Perriello. “Our brave men and women in uniform, especially those serving in recent wars, deserve confidential and comprehensive medical treatment as they adjust to life back home. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues because taking care of our returning troops is something both parties can agree on.”
For those of you keeping score, that's two pieces of legislation in less than two month's time. That's rockstar status in my mind.


matt said...

this could backfire. according to Robin and Jennifer, the amount of veterans already lying about their mental health status in order to receive additional disability pay is alarming. but maybe this money will allow them to get better at determining who is lying and who is not, so let's hope it works.

matt said...

ps - that's right, i'm reading your blog Drew!

Drew said...

I took the press release to say that people were lying in order to not be diagnosed with psychological disorders, and the resulting lack of medicine and treatment, combined with the psychological duress in a war zone, increases the chance of soldier and veteran suicide rates. And anything to decrease those suicides from our heroic sisters and brothers overseas, I am totally for.

And, thanks for reading the blog, matt, we could use another, if I remember correctly from the wedding, conservative voice on this blog.

CWPNRG? said...

I meant to comment on this earlier, and it slipped my mind.
It's a good idea in theory; whether it will work in practice is entirely different. I don't know how the system currently works for soldiers coming home from overseas, but if you take this mental health assessment and you score in the suicidal range, you need to be supervised so you don't do something stupid.
I know for stateside soldiers, mental health is the highest priority - if a soldier comes in to see a chaplain and the chaplain believes something is seriously wrong, the soldier is immediately put under watch and transported to an appropriate hospital facility.
It's possible that I'm reading this completely wrong, but it seems like the bill is going to actually delay the time between diagnosis and treatment, which is a major problem, especially because that soldier will be coming home unsupervised. As a formerly suicidal person, suicidal people need to be supervised. I'm concerned that an unwanted side effect of this bill will be to create time where suicidal soldiers will be unsupervised.