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Rep. Thompson Legislation to Improve Military Mental Health Evaluations Introduced in Senate;

U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers (MEPS) Act,
U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers (MEPS) Act, companion legislation to the bill U.S. Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced on March 27, 2014.

The bipartisan proposal would require a preliminary mental health assessment for military recruits prior to joining the service.

“The introduction of the MEPS Act has lent to a broader discussion on behavioral health in the military and what Congress can do to better protect the safety of our troops and veterans.

I want to thank Senators Portman and Rockefeller for their leadership and introducing a companion bill in the Senate,” Rep. Thompson stated.

"The issue of military mental wellness should be on the mind of every Member of Congress – and not just when the issue is dominating national headlines. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to build awareness, support, and momentum for this commonsense proposal.”

“Too many of our men and women in uniform still suffer from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and behavioral health conditions,” Senator Portman stated. “While the Department of Defense has made great strides in the way it treats these invisible wounds of war, the steady persistence of this problem demonstrates the need for more action. This legislation represents an important step toward a more comprehensive and effective approach to mental health that covers servicemembers throughout the duration of their service as well as during their transition to civilian life.”

“We make a solemn promise to each and every veteran that, in return for their service, we will take care of their health, security and well-being,” Senator Rockefeller said. “While our nation hasn’t always fulfilled that commitment, particularly when it comes to providing mental health services, we have an opportunity now to do more with the Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers Act. This bill goes a long way toward effective screening, so that we can identify problems early and provide better care. This is key to helping servicemembers and veterans who struggle with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, or other mental health issues. I am grateful to Senator Portman for his partnership in this effort. We need the Senate to support this legislation that can finally provide servicemembers with critical mental health screenings, both at the beginning of their service and during their transition back to civilian life.”

Since introduction, the MEPS Act has garnered over twenty cosponsors in the House and the support of a dozen major military and mental health advocacy groups, including the American Psychological Association, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Reserve Officers Association, the Reserve Enlisted Association, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard, the National Military Family Association, the Military Officers Association of America, the Association of the U.S. Navy, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

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