Don’t Neglect Troops’ Mental Health

Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said April 29 he thinks both Congress and DOD could do more—and should do more—to aid returning troops who may suffer from mental health issues. The lengths of tours of duty and the scenarios of combat facing the men and women of the armed forces have the potential of taking “a serious toll on someone,” he told reporters during a breakfast meeting April 29. “I’m quite concerned about it.” One of the issues is to help identify young people at risk. “Very few people would say, ‘Hey I have a mental problem.’ It just doesn’t happen,” Skelton said. “But there are ways to discover that someone is under great stress and [we] can try to help them as well as their families, because their families are the ultimate bill payers for someone under a great deal of stress.” Already Congress and DOD have taken some action. For example, the Fiscal 2008 defense authorization act contains a “Wounded Warrior” section that includes passages, such as enabling combat veterans to receive mental health evaluations within 30 days of requesting one.