House Veterans' Affairs Committee Holds Symposium on PTSD
On Wednesday, with both Democratic and Republican Members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee in attendance, Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA), led the first symposium to discuss improved ways to provide mental health care services to veterans.
"This symposium is intended to cover as much of the spectrum of thought about PTSD and mental health issues as possible," said Chairman Filner. "I believe we succeeded in opening up the broader thought process of how we deal with mental health issues. Now, with this better understanding, it is our job to work to provide better treatment and services to our veterans."
Participants in the PTSD Health Care Symposium included: Dr. Robert L. Bray of the Thought Field Therapy Center of San Diego, Linda Rosenberg of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, Dr. James Henry Scully, Jr. of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Saul Rosenberg of the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Beth Hudnall Stamm of the Institute of Rural Health at Idaho State University, John Melia of the Wounded Warriors Project and Dr. Sally Satel of the American Enterprise Institute.
Ideas for improved mental health service delivery to veterans included immediate screenings for all veterans upon their return from deployment, a "de-boot" camp to decompress from the stress of deployment, and more effective electronic medical records transfer between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Dr. Robert Bray noted that "our social and military culture discourage many of our bravest service members from acknowledging the severe normal problems they experience and dissuade them from asking for help." Allowing service members coming out of combat stress conditions to acquire assistance outside of their command of VA authority was discussed as a possible solution.
"We need to take bold action," said Chairman Filner. "Today's symposium brought together experts with a range of different experiences to identify the specific issues facing our veterans. This forum is intended to bring about productive problem solving tactics and I am pleased that Members of both parties were able to discuss the mental health care needs of our returning servicemembers. My hope is that these discussions will lead to bold and bi-partisan legislation that will effectively tackle the mental health wounds from this war."
The series of roundtable discussions will continue throughout the 110th Congress. The next Full Committee Roundtable will be held on Wednesday, May 23 at 10 a.m. and will focus on reducing the backlog of veterans' disability claims.