APA, the National Mental Health Association, and the National Alliance for
the Mentally Ill support a comprehensive bill to help active-duty military
members and veterans exposed to trauma receive the mental health care they may
Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.), the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans
Affairs Committee, introduced the bill in the House of Representatives last
"The mental health, just like the physical health, of our service
members and veterans deserves to be treated as a top priority for us here in
Congress," Lane told his colleagues, according to a committee press
APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr., M.D., commended Evans last month
for sponsoring the bill, titled the Comprehensive Assistance for Veterans
Exposed to Traumatic Stressors Act of 2005 (HR 1588).
"Your leadership on this critical issue will spur other members of
Congress to action on this issue," Scully said in a letter to Evans.
Scully also praised "the bill's comprehensive approach to breaking
down barriers to early diagnosis and treatment for posttraumatic stress
For example, to facilitate the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA)
planning for the mental health needs of veterans, the bill would require that
the Department of Defense (DoD) share with the VA mental health information
obtained from health surveys that soldiers completed before and after their
The legislation also would also require that the two departments share
their mental health expertise and resources to do the following:
APA also commended Evans for authorizing additional resources in the
legislation to address "the wide gap between the VA's capacity to
provide mental health services to veterans and their growing mental health
needs," according to the April letter (see page 25).
The legislation also calls on the VA to develop a plan to increase
veterans' access to specialized PTSD care by using readjustment counseling
centers, telemedicine, and community-based outpatient clinics.
A key provision in the bill would extend the period of time that combat
veterans are entitled to services in the VA health care system from two years
to five years.
The text of the Comprehensive Assistance for Veterans Exposed to
Traumatic Stressors Act of 2005 can be accessed online at<http://thomas.loc.gov>
by searching on the name or bill number, HR 1588. ▪