VA aims to beef up mental health services

Nov. 08, 2012 @ 06:21 PM

Before I get ahead of myself (if that’s possible), Happy Birthday, Marines. For non-Marine readers, Saturday is the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. When you see a Marine wish him a Happy Birthday, and thank him for a job well-done. Most active duty Marines have seen combat twice by now.
Last month the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced next year’s  COLA . The COLA also affects military retired pay, SBP, DIC, Disability payments, and more. Medicare payments Part B and TRICARE Prime fees for retirees under age 65. Go to (www.social security.gov/cola) to read more about how it is calculated.
From news for the Enlisted, dated Oct. 26; President Obama is committed to helping our veterans recover from the wounds of war, both seen and unseen. At President Obama’s direction, the Department of Veterans Affairs has made mental health services for veterans a top priority. This past year  has seen the VA provide specialty mental services to 1.3 million veterans. Starting in 2009, the VA has increased the mental health budget by 39 percent and hired more than 3,500 mental health professionals. The VA has an ongoing effort to hire 1,600 additional mental health professionals to serve veterans by June 2013. Last month, Obama issued an executive order expanding suicide prevention strategies and to meet the growing demand for mental health and substance abuse services for veterans, service members and military families. The VA was also directed to increase the Crisis Line capacity by 50 percent by the end of next year.
Recently, Congressman Tim Walz, D-Minnesota, and three co-sponsors introduced HR6574, the Service member Mental Health Review Act. This bill directs the DoD to establish a special review board to correct over 30,000 personality and adjustment disorder discharges that occurred between 2001 and the present day. Many of these service members were wrongfully discharged, when truthfully many of them were suffering from PTSD or a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) due to combat or sexual trauma. Instead of taking care of its warriors, DoD and the component services, separated service members with mental health problems caused by combat or other trauma and thereby preventing them from getting the help they needed. This legislation requires that DoD establish a Mental Health Discharge Board of Review, to determine the validity of those diagnosis.
This is the latest from TREA (The Retired Enlisted Association) – “To all Tricare Reserve Select and Tricare Retired Reserve Enrollees”:
Your monthly premium payments must be made by either recurring Funds Transfer (EFT) or recurring Debit/Credit Card (Visa/MasterCard only) beginning absolutely no later than January 1, 2013. Contact your TRICARE regional contractor IMMEDIATELY to set up your automatic monthly premium payments, if you have not done so already. If you fail to establish one of these automated payment methods, you and or your family’s coverage will be terminated. Contact information for your TRICARE regional contractor can be found at: www.tricare.mil/contacts or the phone number on your statement.
OoRah Marines. Happy Birthday!
Semper Fi. And pray for the families of the fallen.

Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.