Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Boxer Introduces Legislation to Double Funding for Veterans Mental Health Care

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is once again leading the charge in protecting America’s Veterans, introduced legislation that would double funding for Veterans mental health care over the next five years. The measure is in response to a recent Army report that found more than a third of returning soldiers and Marines who served in Iraq later sought help for mental health problems.

“Our brave veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have faced unspeakable horrors,” said Boxer in introducing her bill on the Senate floor. “They have seen people killed and wounded, experienced the stress of urban warfare, and endured other traumatic events. These experiences undoubtedly take their toll. It is imperative that we make a long-term commitment to provide mental health services to our veterans, who have sacrificed so much for us.”

The legislation, S. 2351, is cosponsored by Democratic Senators Kennedy, Dayton and Lautenberg and would also require the Department of Veterans Affairs to issue an annual report on their progress in implementing milestones from the VA Mental Health Strategic Plan. This would include an independent assessment of progress from the Special Committee on Veterans with Serious Mental Illness, the Special Committee on Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Secretary’s Homeless Advisory Committee.

Boxer said that her bill was designed to fix extreme shortcomings in Bush administration funding of Veterans mental-health programs.

“America’s veterans deserve the best mental health care available. Our men and women in uniform have put their lives on the line for this country – we must take care of them in return,” she said.

The bill, which is supported by AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans, has been referred to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for further consideration.