WASHINGTON -- The following information was released by North Carolina Senator Kay R. Hagan:
U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) yesterday cosponsored a bipartisan bill to help service members access mental health care services. Currently, TRICARE, the health care system for service members, requires them to obtain a physician referral in order to see a licensed mental health counselor. However, this same obstacle is not applied to licensed social workers or certified marriage and family therapists.
'Our service men and women put their lives on the line for our country, and they now face an unnecessary, administrative hurdle to accessing mental health care,' Hagan said. 'As a U.S. Senator from North Carolina and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am focused on ensuring our veterans, active duty military and their families can access the services they need. Mental health care for our returning troops is so critical, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure this important bill is signed into law.'
A recent RAND study found that as many as 20 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Suicide rates for our service men and women are at an all time high. The TRICARE Mental Health Care Access Act, S. 3371, removes the TRICARE physician referral and supervision requirement. The bill has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senator Hagan comes from a strong military family. Her husband Chip is a Vietnam veteran who used the GI Bill to help pay for law school. Her father and brother served in the Navy, her father-in-law was a Two-Star General in the Marine Corps, and she has two nephews currently serving on active duty.
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