May 01 2014

Senator Blunt Marks National Mental Health Awareness Month By Introducing “Caring For America’s Heroes Act”

Bipartisan Bill Will Help Military Retirees, Families Obtain Behavioral Health Treatment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation marks the start of “National Mental Health Awareness Month” today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) introduced the bipartisan “Caring For America’s Heroes Act” to build on his ongoing efforts to ensure all Americans have access to quality behavioral health treatments – including members of the military, veterans, and their families. The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.).

Blunt, who serves as a member of both the defense authorizing and appropriations committees, introduced the Caring For America’s Heroes Act to bring mental health treatment in-line with the way physical injuries are treated under TRICARE. As a result, the bill will help reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health challenges and allow the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to provide TRICARE beneficiaries with better care. The Caring For America’s Heroes Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (Mich.). To read the bill, please click here.

“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, D.C. to guarantee our servicemen and women, veterans, and military families have access to quality behavioral health treatment. This bill takes an important step towards achieving that goal.”

“Caring for the mental health of our veterans and their families is critically important,” said 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.”

“The Retired Enlisted Association wholeheartedly supports this bill,” said Rick Delaney, President of the Retired Enlisted Association. “This bill will give America’s warfighters the peace of mind to know that their dependents will receive appropriate mental health treatment that will enable them to go and carry out the mission of keeping America safe, and it will give military retirees the knowledge that their sacrifices to our nation are respected and honored as well.”

“The National Military Family Association thanks Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Debbie Stabenow for introducing the Caring for America’s Heroes Act that eliminates TRICARE’s cap on inpatient behavioral health care for military spouses, children, and retirees. Our Association remains deeply concerned about the behavioral health challenges many military families face after enduring the stress of 13 years of war,” said Karen Ruedisueli from the National Military Family Association. “We appreciate the Senators’ efforts to ensure military families experiencing a mental health crisis have access to the appropriate level of care.”

Blunt has a long record of working on issues related to behavioral health services, including:

  • Last month, Blunt joined Stabenow to successfully pass a version of the “Excellence in Mental Health Act” in the so-called “doc-fix” (SGR) bill to address the nation’s fragmented mental health system. The provision establishes pilot programs in eight states over the next two years to expand access to community mental health services. The original bill was co-sponsored by 25 Senators and supported by more than 50 mental health, veteran, and law enforcement groups.
  • In the wake of the Fort Hood tragedy, Blunt visited Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. to discuss the military’s behavioral health services with leaders at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital. Click here for high-resolution photos of Senator Blunt’s visit. Click here to watch Blunt’s remarks on Fox News regarding the Fort Hood tragedy and his efforts to improve our nation’s mental health policies.
  • On April 9, 2014, Blunt participated in a U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on defense health where he questioned a panel of military Surgeon Generals regarding the mental health system and our nation’s military hospitals. On April 8, 2014, Blunt participated in a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, where he also discussed mental health policies.

Click Here To View Additional News, Releases, & Videos Surrounding Senator Blunt’s Ongoing Efforts To Improve America’s Behavioral Health Policies & Treatment

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