Bill Promotes Mental Health Screening for Combat Troops

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Alarmed by escalating rates of suicide among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has introduced legislation requiring mental health screening for all soldiers and reservists. Therapists would examine combat personnel before going into a war zone, after coming home, and before redeployment. The Post-Deployment Health Assessment Act of 2009 is based on a Montana program that was implemented after the suicide of National Guardsman Chris Dana, who killed himself 18 months after returning from Iraq.

Soldiers age 20-24 have been found to be twice as likely to commit suicide as their civilian counterparts, according to a CBS News investigation. U.S. Army statistics for 2008 showed a record rate of 20.2 suicides per 100,000 soldiers, and the rate for this year is expected to go even higher.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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