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Udall, Salazar Introduce Bill to Combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Location: Washington, DC

Udall, Salazar Introduce Bill to Combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Representatives Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) and John Salazar (D-Manassa) have introduced legislation that would provide improved mental health care treatment for military members and veterans, enhance care for military families, and better prepare our troops to cope with stress related to combat. The HONOR Warriors Act, H.R. 6268, would also create pilot programs at two Army bases - one of them, Fort Carson - to try to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder in combat troops and to provide early detection and treatment for PTSD when it happens.

This legislation recognizes that our service members deploying to and returning from Iraq and Afghanistan need and deserve improved mental health care services. H.R. 6268 is a companion bill to S. 3008, introduced by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), which has 15 cosponsors in the Senate from both parties. Nearly 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with PTSD since 2003, up 50 percent just last year. In addition, almost 20 percent of all military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan - 300,000 total - have reported symptoms of PTSD or severe depression. More than 600,000 returning troops suffer from PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or both. Of those who do seek help for PTSD, only about half receive treatment that is considered to be "minimally adequate."

"I am introducing this legislation to ensure that the mental health needs of our military members and veterans are addressed now," said Udall. "Providing prompt and effective treatment to our returning troops can help prevent many of the negative effects related to PTSD and depression. It's the least we can do to repay them for the sacrifices they have made for our country."

"PTSD is a growing problem among our veterans returning from combat and I believe we must do everything in our power to ensure that the country they served so bravely takes care of them when they return home," said Salazar. "There are currently 427,000 veterans across Colorado, with more arriving every day, that would benefit from the provisions in this bill."

The bill's provisions would:

- Create a scholarship program to educate and train behavioral health care specialists to serve
service members and veterans;

- Give active-duty service members access to Vet Centers, which currently provide
readjustment counseling, outreach, and mental health care services to veterans only;

- Extend survivor benefits to families of military personnel who commit suicide and have a
history of combat-related mental health conditions, PTSD, or TBI;

- Provide grants to non-profit organizations to offer services to survivors of members of the
Armed Forces and veterans;

- Establish pilot programs to better prepare service members for combat through a focus on
improved prevention, early detection, intervention, and treatment of PTSD. The bill sets up
two locations for these programs - Fort Carson in Colorado, and Fort Leonard Wood in
Missouri.

"It's clear that Congress needs to step in to ensure that our service members and veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of PTSD and major depression are getting the support they deserve," Udall said. "They shouldn't have to fight another war to get proper care once they return home."


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