We need you to speak out on behalf of our nation’s service men and women once more. Congressman Denny Rehberg from Montana has introduced the companion bill to S. 711, the Post Deployment Health Assessment Act of 2009. We appreciate the immense support for S. 711 and we must ensure these bills garner broad support in the House and Senate.
As you may know, this legislation is based on the premiere program in the country for caring for Montana National Guard members suffering from PTSD, which was extraordinarily successful. S. 711 and H.R. 2058 will require mental health screenings before deployment, upon return home, and every six months for two years. This basic and effective program will help safeguard the mental health of our entire military.
The mental health needs of the 1.64 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to make headlines. Over 18 percent of troops who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, nearly 300,000 troops, have symptoms of post traumatic stress or major depression. Another 19 percent have experienced a possible traumatic brain injury. Further, only 53 percent of service members with PTSD or depression sought help over the past year. The suicide rate among our military is at its highest point in 26 years and our male veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide than civilians. Additionally, the stigma that has long been present in the military creates a situation where mental health needs are not adequately tended to by professionals.
Please contact your Representative and ask him, or her, to support this critical legislation. If your Representative is already a cosponsor of H.R. 2058, you can send him, or her, a thank you note.