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Yarmuth Questions Ky. Soldier on Mental Health Treatment in Military

Hearing Follows Passage of Largest Veteran Healthcare Funding Increase in History

Hearing on military handling of mental health issues (Washington, DC) Today, on the heels of House passage of the largest increase in funding for veterans’ healthcare in American history, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3)  took on the shortcomings in the treatment of mental health problems in the military at an Oversight and Government Reform hearing.

The witnesses told Yarmuth that more needs to be done, especially in the Army, to care for the mental health of American soldiers.  Specialist Michael Bloodworth, of Marshall County, Kentucky suggested “possibly longer demobilization time, and retraining soldiers to live a daily life, and doing more than just [requiring soldiers to fill out] a ten question questionnaire.”

Frequently, mental health issues—such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which impacts 13 percent of soldiers deployed to Iraq and more than half of all suffering casualties—are stigmatized in the military, preventing soldiers from seeking the treatment they need.  Prior to the hearing, Yarmuth supported the passage of five bills on the House floor, which will address many of the obstacles facing mental health issues and dramatically increase veterans’ care.

“The way we’ve been treating our troops when they return from fighting for our country is just shameful,” Yarmuth said following the hearing.  “I’m very pleased by what the House has accomplished in raising the bar on veterans’ benefits, but we’ve got a long way to go, and I’m determined to keep working to ensure these American Heroes get the treatment they’ve earned, that they deserve.”

The measures, all of which passed the House, are listed below:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury/Rural Veterans Outreach (H.R. 2199): Ensures that American veterans are properly screened for Traumatic Brain Injury and receive the appropriate treatment. The legislation also expands VA resources to provide underserved communities with “mobile vet centers” for mental health services and benefits outreach.
  • Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act (H.R. 612): Helps ensure soldiers with mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder that are often not immediately diagnosed, are treated by making veterans eligible for health care due to combat service for five years after leaving active duty. 
  • Veterans Outreach Improvement Act (H.R. 67): Allows the VA to partner with state and local governments to reach out to veterans and their families in ensuring they receive the benefits they have earned.
  • Early Access to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Act (H.R. 2239): Extends eligibility for rehabilitation benefits from the Veterans' Affairs Department.
  • Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act (H.R. 1470): Requires that chiropractic care and services be provided to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers.

Since January, Yarmuth and the Democratic-led Congress have worked to honor veterans by improving veterans’ health care, strengthening benefits for our men and women in uniform today, and providing long overdue benefits for the veterans and military retirees who have already served.