[Cross-posted at My Left Wing and the new PTSD Timeline is up at ePluribus Media]
Man, have we got a lot of good people fighting for our vets.
There's one guy who's been consistently taking up the post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] fight in Congress for quite a while now. Illinois Congressman Lane Evans.
Quick question: which district does he represent?
Darn it. You don't know, do you? Hey fancy pants Colbert: when you gonna get your Better Know a District on this one?! You chicken or something? Because by the looks of it, Rep. Evans is a real dynamo. He's the kind of guy that likes facts. And action. And he's got balls to prove it.
He's busy. He's important. He's a Democrat. It might be a little difficult to schedule an interview with him; but, I think it's time to let the Colbert Report know what we want. Education. Balls. And Congressman Lane Evans.
Until then, I guess you'll have to rely on this diary to learn more about the man and his PTSD legislation...
On April 13, 2005,
Rep. Lane Evans [D-IL] introduced the Comprehensive Assistance for Veterans Exposed to Traumatic Stressors Act of 2005.
The legislation was crafted with the aim of improving the mental health benefits given our returning veterans.
OIF Veteran and Operation Truth Founder Paul Rieckhoff on Evans and PTSD:
"We hear time and time again from our veteran membership that the legacy of this war will be the mental toll it's exacting on our Troops," Rieckhoff said this morning. "The nation has been through this before, with many Vietnam Veterans still not getting the mental care they need. Lawmakers know the problem and they know the solution, yet nothing has been done. The government cannot wait any longer to take this issue seriously. On behalf of this nation's Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, I thank Representative Evans for taking up our concerns."
Evans is the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.
His H.R. 1588 has 102 cosponsors and aims "to improve programs for the identification and treatment of post-deployment mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, in veterans and members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes."
Congress "cannot afford to waste any time in responding to the mental health concerns of returning troops...We must not lose any of another generation of veterans to this devastating condition, and we must not allow assistance to those veterans already affected to be diminished due to rising demand for services or inadequate planning."
The bill is meant as a comprehensive measure to address PTSD from "initial exposure to diagnosis and effective treatment of the condition."
The initiatives in the bill are aimed at:
- Ensuring active outreach programs for veterans returning from deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere;
- Enhancing the capacity and accessibility of a number of PTSD services within the VA health care system;
- Ensuring that current VA PTSD patients may continue to receive services;
- Building broad-based educational systems to provide fundamental information about PTSD to front-line providers, including the case managers of veterans of the current deployments;
- Providing the most current information about state-of-the-art treatment for PTSD to VA mental health clinicians;
- Establishment of a joint Departments of Defense/Veterans Affairs Council on post-deployment mental health to address issues that affect both systems;
- Ensuring that decisions about compensation for PTSD and its associated conditions are based on the available science and give veterans the benefit of the doubt;
- Developing new models for delivering effective and efficient PTSD treatment; and,
- Allowing the family members of service-disabled veterans to access therapy to adjust to the changed condition of their loved ones.
Another important requirement in the bill includes extending combat vet eligibility for VA health services from 2 to 5 years.
The bill would also require the VA commit:
- 100 additional full-time equivalent employees to Readjustment Counseling Service outstations.
- A PTSD Clinical Team at every medical center of the Veterans Health Administration.
- A family therapist at each Vet Center.
- A PTSD Coordinator in each regional network referred to as a Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN).
- A PTSD coordinator in each regional office of the Readjustment Counseling Service whose duties shall include liaison with regional office staff and medical centers for veterans seeking service-connection for PTSD.
I told you he had balls, didn't I? If you do just one thing tomorrow to help our returning vets, might you consider contacing Rep. Lane Evans? Tell him you support his efforts. Ask him what more we can do out here to help him. And tell him you like his balls. Ok, skip that last one...
Contact information (no handy-dandy online contact form for us to use).
Phone: Washington, DC
Voice - (202) 225-5905
Fax - 202-225-5396
Mail: Congressman Lane Evans
2211 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
See his contact page for local phone numbers and district addresses if you prefer to go that route. (And no, I'm not going to tell you which district he's from. You'll have to contact the Colbert Report for that!)