Donnelly’s military mental health legislation moves forward
By Andi TenBarge
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s proposal to provide more mental health options for active military servicemen is on its way to the full Senate.
The Service Member and Veteran Mental Health Care Package – also referred to as “Care Package” – is a component of the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2016 fiscal year.
The proposal is meant to help improve mental outcomes for service members by:
- Strengthening Department of Defense mental health services.
- Enhancing the ability for active military members to receive quality mental health care from community providers.
- Calling on the Department of Defense to train physician assistants to help meet the growing demand for mental health services
The bill in its current form provides these services to active military – but not veterans. However, Donnelly said he’s confident that language will be added later.
Donnelly said the provision would allow private providers to take part in an online registry that would make it easier for active duty military and veterans to find care.
“I would encourage any of our private providers to begin working together immediately with the Military Family Research Institute and other organizations where they can learn more each and every day and start to talk about themselves as being veterans friendly,” Donnelly said.
The legislation comes a year after Donnelly backed a law that requires all active, reserve, and Guard service members to undergo person-to-person mental health assessments. President Barack Obama signed that provision into law in December 2014.
Donnelly’s newest proposal passed the Senate Armed Services Committee and will be included in the 2016 defense bill. It now heads to the Senate.
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news site powered by Franklin College journalism students.