Last week, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., introduced a bill to “identify holes in the current mental health care system for active-duty service members and help reduce military suicides.”
“The health and safety of our active-duty military community is one of my top priorities in Congress,” said Buchanan. “Unfortunately, military service often takes an immense psychological toll on our service members and far too many are dying by suicide as a result. We need to ensure our men and women in uniform have access to critical mental health care services where they are stationed so they remain healthy and ready to serve their country.”
Buchanan’s “Treating Invisible Wounds on Base Act” will require “the Department of Defense (DoD) to study and report to Congress on the accessibility of mental health care providers on military bases, the accessibility of inpatient mental health services for service members and propose any steps that may be taken to improve the accessibility of those services.”
U.S. Reps. Jen Kiggins, R-Va., Britanny Pettersen, D-Col., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., are co-sponsoring the bill.
Buchanan pointed to the reports on military members committing suicide.
“According to the DoD Suicide Report, 328 active duty service members committed suicide in 2021. In the Army alone, 176 service members took their own lives, the highest amount in a single year post-9/11. In 2021, a study from Brown University found that 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who served in the military post-9/11 have died by suicide – compared to the 7,052 service members killed in combat in those same 20 years,” Buchanan’s office noted.
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.
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