WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) – members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – today introduced their bipartisan Care and Readiness Enhancement (CARE) for Reservists Act to improve Guardsmen and Reservists’ access to consistent mental health services, regardless of their deployment status. Currently, members of the National Guard and Reserves undergo annual health assessments to identify medical issues that could impact their ability to deploy, but any follow-up care must almost always be pursued at their own expense.
“It is critical we provide our servicemembers every opportunity to access mental healthcare” said Sen. Moran. “Unfortunately, many National Guardsmen and Reservists struggle to receive mental healthcare when they are not deployed or drilling. This legislation will remove existing barriers to care for National Guardsmen and Reservists by allowing them to access readjustment counseling at VA Medical Centers and through VA mental health services. We have a duty to care for the men and women who bravely serve our nation, especially as it relates to mental illness and thoughts of suicide. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation that moves us closer toward delivering on this promise.”
"We’ve got to do everything we can to improve access to mental health care services for every man and woman who serves in uniform," said Sen. Tester. "Our bill will go a long way toward expanding mental health options for our citizen soldiers and airmen, particularly those in rural areas, and shows them we are serious about treating the invisible wounds of war."
The CARE for Reservists Act allows the Department of Defense to fund needed behavioral or mental healthcare, regardless of whether that reservist is within his or her pre-deployment window or has never deployed at all. Their bill also allows members of the Guard and Reserve to access Vet Centers for mental health screening and counseling, employment assessments, education training and other services to help them return to civilian life.
The CARE For Reservists Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
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