Today, the U.S. House adopted two amendments sponsored by U.S. Representative Glenn "GT' Thompson as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (H.R. 1960). Thompson issued the following statement prior to the measure passing by a vote of 315-108.
"This is a huge improvement to current policy that will help ensure a more seamless process for our service members as they transition from military to civilian life, especially those coping with mental and physical injuries," stated Thompson.
The Transitional Assistance Management Program, or TAMP, offers health care coverage for service members and their families transitioning into civilian life. Passage of Thompson's amendment will extend coverage under TAMP by 180 days for all services rendered through telemedicine.
"All too often, symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress do not appear until 8 to 10 months after deployment," he added. "This reform will help those who serve our country transition to civilian life without the burden or fear of losing access to critical services at a time when they are needed most."
Thompson's second amendment deals with the recruitment screening policy at the Department of Defense (DoD), which currently includes physical evaluations but not mental or behavioral assessments.
"Suicide rates are on the rise for those who have served in a combat-related role. More alarmingly, suicide rates are trending upward for men and women who have never been deployed," stated Thompson. "By implementing a preliminary mental health assessment during the recruiting process, the Department of Defense can bring mental health in line with physical health."