U.S. Reps. Glenn Thompson and Tim Ryan Introduce "Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act"

- U.S. Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Tim Ryan
(D-OH)introduced the bipartisan Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act (H.R. 4305). The bill, which has 13 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of a large number of military and mental health advocacy groups, will help the military identify behavioral health issues and improve suicide prevention by instituting a mental health assessment for all incoming military recruits.

"Despite increased awareness and expanded efforts to address behavioral health issues in the military, our service branches still face challenges when it comes to early detection and prevention. Issues such as Traumatic Brain Injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress, and suicide remain all too common. While the military performs comprehensive physical and medical evaluations, no similar examination for mental health exists,” stated Rep. Thompson. “The Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act will institute a preliminary mental health assessment at the time recruits are first joining the military. This small but consequential improvement to recruitment evaluations will help address a recognized knowledge gap within the military and ensure our soldiers are both physically and mentally fit to serve.”

“I am heartbroken by the staggering number of our veterans who are suffering from PTSD and TBI,” Rep. Ryan stated. “Our military makes sure every serviceman and woman is physically fit for duty and this legislation will ensure that they are also mentally fit. It will also ensure that we have a better baseline against which to measure any potential mental harm they may have incurred during their duty. These men and women put their lives on the line every day in the service of our nation, it is our duty to offer everything in our power to guarantee they return home safely, both physically and mentally.”

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.

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