WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the House passed the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included two amendments offered by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) to improve the mental health services provided to soldiers by the Department of Defense (DoD).
According to a report from JAMA Psychiatry, the rate of major depression among service men and women is five times higher than the civilian population, and the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is 15 times higher than the civilian population. Rep. Smucker’s amendments address the mental health provider shortage at DoD and prescribing practices designed to treat PTSD.
“The NDAA supports our troops, enhances our military readiness, and provides for the defense of our nation,” said Rep. Smucker. “Ensuring our troops have access to high-quality mental health care and are properly treated is critical to supporting those priorities. Some of the greatest wounds inflicted upon our brave service men and women are unseen. We should be doing everything we can to treat these wounds as we would any other.”
Background on Smucker Amendments
Rep. Smucker’s first amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress that describes the shortage of mental health providers at DoD and contains a strategy to better recruit and retain mental health providers.
Specifically, Rep. Smucker’s amendment would:
- Require DoD to submit a report that details the exact shortage of mental health providers at DoD no later than 180 days after enactment
- The report must explain reasons for such a shortage
- The report must also explain the impact that this shortage is having on members of the armed services
- Require that DoD develop a strategy to better recruit and retain mental health providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurse practitioners, licenses social workers, and other licenses providers of the military health system
Rep. Smucker’s second amendment requires that the Secretary of Defense submit a report to Congress on the DoD’s efforts to review and monitor the medication prescribing practices of its providers based on DoD’s guideline recommendations to treat PTSD. Additionally, DoD must establish a monitoring system carried out by each branch of the armed services to conduct periodic reviews of the medication prescribing practices of its own providers.
Background on the 2018 NDAA
The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act does the following:
Courtesy of the House Committee on Armed Services
- Supports necessary increase in topline funding to support our troops and readiness recovery consistent with President Trump’s commitment to rebuild the military
- Pay raise of 2.6% for our troops – Largest in 9 years
- Increase the size of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Naval and Air Reserve, as well as Air Guard
- Makes major reforms in Pentagon bureaucracy and streamlines buying practices
- Increases funding to rebuild our military and support readiness recovery:
- Increases funding for training in each of the Services;
- $18.6 billion to begin to rehabilitate and replace worn out Army equipment;
- $39.5 billion to begin to overcome the crisis in military aviation by getting more aircraft in the air;
- $36.0 billion to restore America’s strength at sea;
- $23.3 billion to sustain, repair and rebuild crumbling military buildings and other infrastructure
- Makes critical investments in missile defense and our nuclear deterrent, which is the cornerstone of our national security
- Makes key investments in other critical military capabilities to confront aggression and address threats around the world, including threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran
- Authorizes funding for co-development and co-production of missile defense and weapon systems with our key ally Israel.
- Advances innovative technologies that will reform the way we will fight and win wars.
Source: Lloyd Smucker, U.S. House of Representatives, 16th District
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