NAMI Says Defense Department AWOL on Mental Health Care for National Guard and Reserves
ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 12, 2011 -- Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has issued the following statement on National Guard mental health care crisis and access to care at stake in the U.S. Department of Defense Appropriations bill.
These are critical times for returning Reserve and National Guard soldiers and their families. The risk is high.
Pentagon data reports that more National Guard troops have died from suicide each of the past five years than were killed in combat or died of accidents or illnesses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have a mental health crisis in the National Guard. The lives of returning military and their families are at stake.
Congress must address this crisis.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are moving to finalize the fiscal year 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill. The House version of the Pentagon's bill includes funding for an essential mental health program.
This program would embed mental health workers in Guard and Reserve units. These professionals would encourage soldiers to seek mental health services when they need them. A similar program is available for active-duty units and must be available for Reserve and National Guard soldiers.
NAMI calls on leaders in Congress and the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund this essential Reserve and National Guard mental health program in the Department of Defense's Appropriations bill.
As a nation, we cannot abandon those who have fought for our country. We owe it to them, their families and to our own honor. It is the right, and only thing to do.
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
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