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Mar-05-2008 09:19TweetFollow @OregonNews
Oregon's Smith Among Senators Pushing for Mental Health Equity for TroopsSalem-News.com
The bill will provide family assistance for servicemen and women with severe psychiatric conditions.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senators Gordon H. Smith (R-OR), Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), introduced legislation today aimed at eliminating assistance disparities for members of the armed services who receive inpatient treatment for serious psychiatric conditions.
The Travel Assistance for Family Members of Our Troops Act of 2008 (S. 2689), will allow family members of service men and women with severe psychiatric conditions to receive the same travel allowances as families of patients being treated for serious physical injuries.
"Ailments of the mind must be treated with the same level of care as we treat ailments of the body," said Senator Smith.
"The Department of Defense recognizes that the presence of family is key to a healthy recovery and provides assistance for family travel. Yet, this benefit is only extended to service members with serious physical conditions. Our legislation ensures that families of patients with serious mental impairments also receive help to spend time with their recovering spouse or child during their treatment."
"Brain injuries and mental health trauma can be every bit as serious as gunshot and shrapnel wounds. Severe combat injuries aren't always discernable to the naked eye, but that does not diminish their severity or the importance of family support to aid in the healing process," Senator Bayh said.
"This legislation is an important equity step forward that will make it possible for our servicemen and women to benefit from having their loved ones nearby during recovery from a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. It reaffirms our belief that all of our wounded warriors deserve the full measure of support we are capable of offering them."
"We know that families help in the healing process, and that applies to both physical and mental illnesses," said Senator Nelson.
"We need to ensure that service men and women dealing with serious psychiatric conditions have the best chance of recovery. Not all war wounds are physical, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and with the Department of Defense to ensure parity for our service members struggling with serious psychiatric conditions."
The Department of Defense currently does not classify active-duty service members receiving treatment for mental illnesses as "Very Seriously Ill" or "Seriously Ill." Therefore, under current policy, family members are not eligible to receive the same travel allowances as inpatients being treated for serious physical injuries.
The Travel Assistance for Family Members of Our Troops Act of 2008 ensures that families of patients with serious mental impairments that require inpatient care are eligible for travel assistance as are families of patients with serious physical injuries.
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