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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senators Introduce Caring for America’s Heroes Act

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Marking the start of National Mental Health Awareness Month, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation last week to improve behavioral healthcare for veterans and members of the military. The Caring for America’s Heroes Act (S. 2276) eliminates the cap on days of inpatient psychiatric treatment for military service members’ families and removes some preauthorization requirements.

Sen. Blunt said in a statement that the bill will bring mental health treatment in line with the way physical injuries are treated under TRICARE. As a result, it will help reduce stigma surrounding behavioral health challenges and improve access to services for veterans, service members, and their families. “We must start treating behavioral illnesses like any other physical illness,” said Blunt. “In the wake of the Fort Hood tragedy, I’m talking with military leaders in Missouri and in Washington DC to guarantee our servicemen and women, veterans, and military families have access to quality behavioral health treatment. This bill takes an important step toward achieving that goal.”

“Caring for the mental health of our veterans and their families is critically important,” added Senator Stabenow. “Twenty-two veterans die by suicide every day, and many more suffer from unseen wounds. This legislation will help our veterans and their families get the care they need so they can get treatment for injuries from the neck up, as well as from the neck down.”

Senator Moran said, “Those who served our nation with duty and honor, as well as with the family members who supported them, deserve access to quality health care. The wounds of war after returning home from service not only impact our military retirees, but also their families. They should be able to seek inpatient mental health services the same way physical injuries are treated.”