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Veterans for America's (VFA) Wounded Warrior Outreach Program Responds to Fort Drum in Aftermath of Report
Date:2/21/2008

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Veterans for America looks forward to continuing to work with leaders at Fort Drum as well as others in the U.S. Army to improve post-combat mental health care for our country's Soldiers.

The members of the 2nd BCT of the 10th Mountain Division have endured great hardship for all of us. Unfortunately, neither the Army nor the country at large was prepared to adequately address the great post-combat mental health burden created by our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 2nd BCT is the most heavily used brigade in the U.S. Army, having been deployed four times in the six years after 9/11. The Army has reported that with each additional tour a service member's likelihood of having post-combat mental health problems increases by 60 percent. Members of the 2nd BCT were more than five times more likely to be killed than the average of all others who have been deployed.

Veterans for America applauds the steps that have been taken by Fort Drum's leaders to devote more resources to meeting the considerable post-combat mental health needs of Soldiers in the 2nd BCT. Hiring more permanent staff is a positive step. Bringing additional professionals from Walter Reed Army Medical Center is also laudable. But these Walter Reed-based professionals will return home after spending a few weeks or months in the North Country and recruiting qualified mental health professionals to work on base will continue to be a challenge.

Leaders at Fort Drum should know that they are not alone in this struggle. Creating a world-class system of treatment for post-combat mental health issues for Soldiers is a great national challenge.

According to Bobby Muller, President of Veterans for America, "While Veterans for America was not able to interview all the members of the 2nd BCT, it is clear to us that many Soldiers -- certainly more than those with whom we spoke -- are suffering greatly as a result of inadequate mental health care after fighting on our behalf."

It is deplorable that those who have served our country honorably should have to wait months to see a mental health care provider as members of the 2nd BCT were forced to do in early December 2007.

In the aftermath of our report, we are heartened to learn that wait times have been further reduced. While there is much more to be done, we are hopeful that things are moving in the right direction.

VFA's report can be found at: http://www.veteransforamerica.org


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SOURCE Veterans for America
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