Obama Joins Bond and Boxer to Introduce Bill to Improve Care for Wounded Service Members
U.S. Barack Obama today joined Senators Kit Bond and Barbara Boxer, and a bipartisan coalition of senators, to introduce the Honoring Our Nation's Obligations to Returning Warriors Act (HONOR Act). This legislation will improve treatment for our service members and veterans suffering with mental injuries, better prepare service members for the stress associated with combat, and increase care for military families. Senators Ted Stevens, Pete Domenici, Lisa Murkowski, and Elizabeth Dole are also cosponsoring this legislation.
"With thousands of service members suffering from combat-related psychological injuries throughout our Armed Forces, we must ensure these heroes have access to the best care and treatment available," said Senator Obama. "These brave men and women have made incredible sacrifices for our nation, and should not have to hide their injuries or fight another battle at home to receive the care and benefits they deserve. This legislation will increase access to care and address the shortage in behavioral therapists our military so desperately needs. I commend Senator Bond and Senator Boxer for their ongoing effort to address the less visible wounds of war, and look forward to moving this legislation forward."
The HONOR Act will:
* Give active-duty service members access to Vet Centers - the confidential community-based counseling centers veterans use for mental health care services;
* Recruit and train more behavioral health specialists to serve service members and veterans;
* Extend survivor benefits to families of military personnel who commit suicide and have a history of combat related mental health conditions, PTSD, or TBI;
* Better prepare service members for combat through a new approach which focuses on improved prevention, early detection, intervention, and treatment of PTSD;
* Help ensure that veterans who honorably served in combat receive health care benefits and that the discharge process was fair.
In March, the Senate passed a measure introduced by Obama and Bond to expedite the military's review of cases in which service members may have been improperly diagnosed with a personality disorder and subsequently discharged. In December 2007, Obama and Bond, along with 13 other senators, called on President Bush to temporarily halt this practice and to create a Special Review Board to examine these cases.
Obama serves as a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.