Part I: Hearing to Focus on Troops Mental Health
Yesterday Defense Department officials met before the House Appropriations subcommittee to explain how they would spend the $900 million the agency received from Congress to improve mental health care for our soldiers. But, the hearing quickly turned into a debate between the House and the Defense Department on how that money should be spent.
The Defense Department outlined for the House the numerous studies that need to be funded, treatment methods that should be adopted, and which pilot programs should be implemented. “We have come a long way since just over a year ago when we were a name on a piece of paper,” Army Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, director of the new Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, told the House. Here are the measures they’ve taken over the past year:
- Developed 20 new sites to deal with mental health and traumatic brain injury (TBI) issues
- Aired a pilot program that helps young people who now need assisted-living services
- Trained 2,700 providers about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and TBI
- Strategizing on how to better recruit mental health care professionals, but explained that there is a national shortage.
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA):
- Contacted 500,000 veterans to make sure they know what support is available and to see whether they’re having problems.
- Gave rise to a new suicide-prevention hot line has received more than 100,000 calls.