Military PTSD caused by endless deployments to the Middle East continues to claim the lives of 22 veterans each and every day. Many of these veterans were as young as 18-years-old when they were handed a weapon and tossed into a war zone where death and destruction are an almost daily occurrence.
Some of these soldiers were eating mammas fried chicken from her prized iron skillet only months before being forced to choke down a version of scrambled eggs crammed into a small green can. It’s a sudden and drastic life change for a young person accustomed to enjoying the comforts and protection of normal home life.
Their nice comfy bed with freshly laundered sheets becomes but a distant memory as each day is filled with thoughts of whether they’ll ever see that bed again. Chances are, some of their battle-buddies who they became extremely close with, won’t. They went home in a flag-draped pine box.
Reps. Lamb Conor (D-Penn.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn,) took the bull by the horns when they recently drafted a bipartisan bill called the “Whole Veteran Act.”
The bill focuses more on the needs of each individual veteran and is based around the concept of “what matters to you, not what is the matter with you.” This approach is designed to hone in on what is most important to each PTSD sufferer rather than the tried and often failed “one treatment fits all” approach.
The bill has unanimously passed through the Senate and is now awaiting the signature of Donald J. Trump who most certainly will approve it without hesitation or objection.
The Whole Veteran Act will allow the V.A. to utilize methods previously considered unorthodox. Some of these methods include meditation, yoga, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, guided imagery, and hypnosis. All’s fair in love and war and PTSD is an endless and sometimes deadly battle.
According to Lamb Conor, “Many doctors have looked at how our system is too expensive and reliant on dangerous drugs. This bipartisan bill will help reform VA healthcare and give veterans a real choice and greater power to manage their own healthcare.” In 2017, 45,390 Americans died by their own hand. Of these suicides, 6,139 were veterans.
Another area the new program will focus on is substance abuse. According to the V.A., 27% of veterans with PTSD also suffer from abusing drugs or alcohol as their means of escaping the reality that consumes them. One out of every ten soldiers returning from the Middle East has a problem with substance abuse in some way.
Roughly 12% of all returning soldiers have PTSD in varying degrees. Though current V.A. medical programs have saved lives, they aren’t saving nearly enough. A regime of mind and mood-altering drugs is not always the solution.
Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Mark Takano, praised the new bill. “It’s also clear that early interventions in mental healthcare can prevent veterans from falling into crisis. With Congressman Lamb’s legislation, we can begin to break this cycle and provide ample opportunities for these crucial early interventions.”
The bill will also hold the V.A. accountable by requiring they submit reports to Congress concerning veteran healthcare availability and detailed outcomes from each branch of the service to assure the program is achieving its full potential.
Trump, being a pro-veteran president, signed an executive order in 2018 which required federal agencies to collaborate their efforts in ascertaining all veterans received timely and proper mental health care. The Whole Veteran Act takes things to an entirely new level.
The new bill will require the Department of Homeland Security, the V.A., and the Department of Defense to work together in their efforts at providing, “to the extent consistent with law, seamless access to mental health care and suicide prevention resources for Veterans, with a focus on the first year after separation from military service.”
Though America can never do enough for its patriotic men and women who volunteered to risk it all in the name freedom and democracy, it’s a comfort to know how the mental well being of these veterans is such an immense priority to our politicians and to our president.