Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today cosponsored the Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act (VMHAA), a bipartisan piece of legislation to help provide greater mental health care to military veterans. Currently, veterans face a five-year window in which they must seek treatment before they lose their high priority status. VMHAA would eliminate the five-year window and allow veterans to more expediently seek treatment for service-connected mental illnesses.
"Our men and women in uniform risk their lives in combat to protect our country and our freedoms, and we owe them nothing but the best support and health care services when they return home," Congressman Kildee said. "I'm proud to cosponsor the Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act, which would ensure that all veterans get the care they need for the all-too-often invisible wounds of war. With high-rates of suicide among veterans returning from war, it is especially important that we make sure these veterans receive the appropriate mental health care."
Currently, the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) offers health care treatment and services to our nation's veterans who suffer from service-related injuries. As the U.S. military and the VA continue to improve treatment for those who have served, there remains a gap for veterans struggling with the psychological aspects of war. While physical injuries are more easily diagnosed during or shortly after military service, signs of mental illnesses are often slower to develop.
Unfortunately, many psychological injuries -- including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- are much more common in veterans returning home. Military personnel are more likely than civilians to develop PTSD. The VA estimates that 11 to 20 percent of the veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have developed PTSD. Additionally, the VA estimates that 10 percent of Desert Storm veterans and 30 percent of Vietnam veterans have experienced PTSD, with many receiving no treatment at all.
Congressman Kildee is committed to making sure that our service members and returning veterans have the resources they need, both in combat and when they return home. Last month, he visited Michigan service members serving overseas in Afghanistan as part of an official trip overseas.