This week Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would correct a problem with the U.S. military's Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) process that is preventing service members from receiving accurate disability ratings for mental health conditions. Under current law, members of the armed forces cannot be retired or separated from the military for a physical or mental disability without a fair hearing before a physical evaluation board. However, the physical evaluation boards rarely include a mental health professional who has been trained to properly evaluate mental health conditions. This has resulted in many retiring and separating service members not receiving an appropriate disability rating. Congressman Jones' bill -- H.R. 1236 -- would rectify this problem by requiring inclusion of a behavioral health professional on any physical evaluation board that considers issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, or other mental health conditions.
"There is a long, sad history of U.S. service members not receiving appropriate disability ratings for PTSD and other mental health issues. I have personally been involved in helping a number of folks who have run into this problem," said Jones. "For a service member not to get an appropriate disability rating because their government did not provide someone who could accurately assess their condition is simply unacceptable. After all our brave warriors have sacrificed for us, the very least we can do is make sure they get appropriate disability ratings and care."
H.R. 1236 has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee for further consideration. Congressman Jones is also seeking to get the language of H.R. 1236 included in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House Armed Services Committee will begin to move later this spring.