Jan 152015
 

The Department of Defense (DOD) maintains our Military Health System (MHS) which provides healthcare services to 8.3 million active and retired military personnel. This system is completely separate from our Veterans Administration. The primary objective of the MHS is to maintain the health of servicemembers so that they can carry out their military missions. This involves the medical testing and screening of recruits, emergency medical treatment of combat troops, and the maintenance of physical standards of those in the armed services. These healthcare services are provided at 530 Army, Navy and Air Force hospitals, clinics, ships and other facilities worldwide. However, much like the overcrowded VA, our Military Health facilities cannot accommodate the demand for care by all active duty service people, their dependents and retirees (many of whom are not eligible for VA services). Therefore, the DOD offers an insurance plan called the TRICARE system for those who cannot get care at military health hospitals or clinics. TRICARE contracts civilian healthcare providers to treat active-duty service members, retirees and their families. It provides these servicemembers with government-subsidized private medical and dental care as well as mental health services. TRICARE’s beneficiaries include members of our Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and select National Reserve and Guard members.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.42 – Military Health Care Affordability Act

H.R.1464 – Military Mental Health Empowerment Act

S.628 & H.R.975 – Servicemember Mental Health Review Act

I oppose reforming current military personnel health policy and wish to defeat H.R.42, H.R.1464, and S.628 & H.R.975

I support extending through 2015 the prohibition on increases in certain health care costs and restrictions on health benefit adjustments for members of the Armed Forces, retirees, and their dependents, including charges and premiums under TRICARE (a DOD managed care program) and cost-sharing requirements under the DOD pharmacy benefits program, and wish to pass H.R.42

I support ensuring that information concerning the availability of mental health services to members of the Armed Forces, as well as privacy rights related to the receipt of such services, is provided to: each officer candidate during initial training, each recruit during basic training, and each other member at such time as the Secretary of Defense (DOD) considers appropriate; requiring each department Secretary to: seek to eliminate perceived stigma associated with seeking and receiving mental health services; and promote the use of such services on a basis comparable to the use of other medical and health services, and wish to pass H.R.1464

I support extending through 2014 the authority of the Physical Disability Board of Review to review the disability determinations of individuals who, since September 11, 2001, are separated from the Armed Forces due to unfitness for duty because of a mental condition with a disability rating of 20% or less and are found to be ineligible for retirement; adding to those eligible for such review individuals who, before December 31, 2014, are separated due to unfitness because of a mental condition not amounting to disability, including separation based on a personality or adjustment disorder; requiring the Board to: review, upon request, the findings and decisions of the appropriate physical evaluation board with respect to such latter individuals; and include as Board members at least one licensed psychologist and one licensed psychiatrist who have had no fiduciary relationship to the Department of Defense since December 31, 2001; allowing the Board to review disability determinations of non-requesting individuals, after obtaining their consent; requiring the Secretary of the military department concerned to correct the military records of individuals in accordance with Board recommendations, unless such Secretary finds that the Board has made a clearly erroneous recommendation, and wish to pass S.628 & H.R.975

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Even after spending tens of millions of dollars on suicide research and prevention programs, our Pentagon concedes it still does not know the reasons our military suicide rate is increasing so rapidly. Over the course of 12 years and two wars, suicides among active-duty and reserve troops have risen steadily, hitting a record of 349 deaths in 2012. These suicides have continued to increase even after withdrawing from Iraq and winding down troop involvement in Afghanistan. In 2002, our military suicide rate was 10.3 per 100,000 troops. However, this rate has climbed to 18 per 100,000 today. For the first time in at least a generation, the 349 soldiers who killed themselves in 2012 exceeded the 295 soldiers who were killed in combat. Some have speculated that many of the reasons service members take their lives are the same reasons civilians do. These include mental illness, stress, physical or sexual abuse, failed relationships, substance addiction and financial problems. Studies have found that half of those in our military who take their life have recently experienced the failure of an intimate relationship. Also, one quarter of all military personnel who commit suicide have been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem. Statistics show a pattern of young white males, both in the military and in civilian life, who use a gun to kill themselves. Health advocates say deployment and combat can worsen existing problems in a servicemember’s life. Studies have also shown that troops with multiple concussions were more likely to report suicidal thoughts than those who did not sustain these injuries. It is thought that post-traumatic stress disorder may also contribute to suicidal behavior.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1463 – Military Suicide Reduction Act

I oppose reforming current military personnel suicide policy and wish to defeat H.R.1463

I support requiring a one-on-one mental health assessment for each member of the Armed Forces deployed in support of a contingency operation once during each 180-day period of such deployment; requiring that, if such assessment cannot be performed by personnel trained and certified to do so the assessment will be conducted using an Internet-based questionnaire; requiring, in such case, that the commanding officer of such member also complete a separate questionnaire containing the CO’s observations with respect to the mental health of that member; requiring such questionnaires to: be reviewed and acted upon by trained and certified mental health personnel and be accorded appropriate privacy, and wish to pass H.R.1463

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In an effort to operate more effectively and economically, our military is now following the lead of our corporations. Among the corporate strategies our Pentagon has adopted are outsourcing and the use of private contractors. Private military companies mostly employ ex-military personnel to provide services to our troops, gather intelligence, and work as bodyguards protecting individuals and facilities. These private contractors are prohibited from using offensive force in war zones and are considered unlawful combatants if they do. The private military and security industry is now a $100 billion/year business as these contractors do not come cheaply. In 2008, private contractors made up just 28% of the workforce of our intelligence community but cost these agencies 50% of their personnel budgets. One government study found our intelligence services are paying private analysts $250,000/year compared to the $125,000/year government analysts make. Overall, it is estimated we pay private contractors 83% more than we pay federal employees for the same services. Critics say our Defense Department is not a corporation and should not be operated like one. They claim we should not be hiring expensive private contractors to provide services for our military when we could perform these jobs in-house and realize significant savings.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2434 – Civilian Contractors Engaged in Intelligence Activities Reduction Act of 2013

S.1192 & H.R.2444 – Commonsense Contractor Compensation Act of 2013

H.R.2912 – Afghanistan Suspension and Debarment Reform Act

I oppose reforming current private military contractor policy and wish to defeat H.R.2434, S.1192 & H.R.2444, and H.R.2912

I support requiring the director of National Intelligence to conduct a study to ascertain the extent to which contractors are used in the conduct of intelligence activities and the type of information to which such contractors are exposed or have access; formulating a plan for reducing by 25% the number of contractors to the intelligence community with top secret security clearances that are engaged in intelligence activities (including intelligence analysis), and wish to pass S.1192 & H.R.2434

I support prohibiting civilian or defense contracts from allowing compensation of contractor and subcontractor employees to exceed $230,700; allowing an exception to such limitation for scientists, engineers, or other specialists who are needed to ensure that an executive agency has continued access to needed skills and capabilities, and wish to pass S.1192 & H.R.2444

I support giving the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), pending a review by the agencies involved, the authority to suspend or debar Afghan and foreign contractors operating in Afghanistan who are suspected of providing material support to enemy insurgents and terrorists, and wish to pass H.R.2912

 Posted by at 12:00 am