Congressional Leader Seeks to Change Law With Bill to Strengthen Mental Health Care for Veterans, Families

Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Patty Murray, has introduced a bill to strengthen oversight and protection of veterans’ mental health care. A key provision of the bill, called the Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012, would allow family members access to mental health care at VA treatment facilities. It would also force the DoD to standardize suicide prevention programs and create additional oversight of military suicide prevention efforts.

Senator Murray Introduces Mental Health Bill, Speaks on Senate Floor

New legislation would make improvements to ensure that those who served have access to consistent, quality behavioral health care
 
by Senator Patty Murray
US Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, June 26, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) – As it becomes increasingly clear that the Pentagon and VA are losing the battle on mental and behavioral health conditions that are confronting so many of our servicemembers and veterans, Senator Murray gave a speech on the Senate floor to introduce her new servicemembers and veterans mental health legislation, the Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012.

Her speech also comes as the Pentagon begins a comprehensive military-wide review, which Senator Murray urged Secretary Panetta to conduct on diagnoses for the invisible wounds of war dating back to 2001.  The misdiagnosis of behavioral health conditions has been a constant problem for soldiers at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, where to date over 100 soldiers and counting have had their correct PTSD diagnosis restored following reevaluation. 

Read more about Senator Murray’s bill here.
 

The Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012 would:

– require the Department of Defense to create a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program;

– expand eligibility for a variety of Department of Veterans Affairs mental health services to family members;

– strengthen oversight of DoD Mental Health Care and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System;

– improve training and education for our health care providers; create more peer-to-peer counseling opportunities;

– and require VA to establish accurate and reliable measures for mental health services.

Read transcript of Senator Murray’s speech introducing the bill:

http://www.veterans.senate.gov/press-releases.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=ff1db01f-0913-41bf-b966-8cdd3a5fbd75

Read story about Sgt. Stephen Davis and his wife Kim:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-army-madigan-ptsd-20120222,0,5841895.story

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