Thompson: President’s Renewed Focus on Improving Mental Wellness of Military, Veterans is a “Step in the Right Direction”
BELLEFONTE – U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5) is calling on the Senate to take action on a series of House-passed bills that would improve the mental health of veterans and active military and address the unemployment disparity facing the nation’s veteran population.
Thompson’s remarks came in response to a series of proposed executive actions announced by President Barack Obama that are designed to support the health and well-being of veterans and service members.
“The President’s new initiatives that would further protect the mental health and well-being of our veterans and service members is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, if we are to fulfill the promises we have made to our nation’s war heroes, we need more than a commitment from the administration. The House has passed a series of bills with overwhelming support that would give the Department of Defense the appropriate authorities to fully implement these proposals,” Thompson said. “It’s time for the Senate to act on these commonsense, bipartisan reforms.”
On May 22, the House passed Thompson’s Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act (H.R. 4305), as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The Senate has failed to act on this bipartisan legislation, which passed the House by a vote of 325-98.
According to a recent Army study, nearly one in five Army soldiers enter the service with a psychiatric disorder, and nearly half of all soldiers who tried suicide first attempted it before enlisting. The MEPS Act would institute a preliminary mental health assessment at the time recruits are first joining the military.
On June 20, the House passed the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015(H.R. 4870), which includes Thompson provisions that will prioritize investments for the expansion of telemedicine across the military. The Senate has failed to act on this bipartisan legislation, which passed the House by a vote of 340-73.
On April 30, the House passed the Veterans Affairs and Military Construction Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 4486), which includes $165 billion in funding, a $7 billion increase over 2014. The Senate has failed to act on this bipartisan legislation, which passed the House by a vote of 416-1.
On March 11, the House passed the Hire More Heroes Act (H.R. 3474), a bill that makes it easier to hire veterans by exempting those who already have health insurance from being counted as full-time employees under the President’s health care law. The Senate has failed to act on this bipartisan legislation, which passed the House by a vote of 406-1.