Two years ago, Matt, the Executive Director of NAMI Montana and one of President Obama's "18 Ordinary Americans Making an Extraordinary Difference," lost his step-brother Chris Dana to a post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) induced suicide sixteen months after he returned from Iraq.
The events around Chris’s death led Governor Brian Schweitzer and the Montana National Guard to develop the premier program in the country for caring for National Guard members suffering from PTSD. Matt says, "The foundation of this successful system is a series of five face-to-face mental health screenings that every returning service member must complete upon their return home from combat."
This broad screening program overcomes the traditional barriers that have kept service members from receiving treatment for PTSD. Over forty percent of the individuals that have completed the screening asked for help in dealing with their combat stress injuries.
Senator Max Baucus introduced “The Post Deployment Health Assessment Act of 2009” to implement this common sense screening program throughout our fighting force. The Act would require face-to-face screening before deployment, upon return home, and then every six months for two years. This basic and effective program will help safeguard the mental health of our entire fighting force for approximately the same price tag as a single F-22 Fighter. The Act is supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the National Guard Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
Please take a few minutes out of your day to contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators to ask them to support this critical legislation. Our military suicide rates are at record levels and climbing. We can’t afford to wait any longer to help our heroes get the care they deserve. You can follow this link to find your Representatives’ and Senators’ contact information: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/.