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Mental Health Care and Mental Health due to Military Sexual Trauma Legislation Updates

We thought we’d give you an update on some pending and recently introduced legislation concerning mental health in regards to care and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Two bills concerning mental health care were recently introduced. The Senate bill, introduced on March 23, 2015, would amend the Veterans Choice, Access and Accountability Act to make it possible for a veteran to receive mental health care from a non-VA facility or provider if the veteran submits a written statement (either in person, by fax, or electronically) that says the veteran wants mental health care from the VA but has not been able to get adequate or timely care from a VA facility

The House bill introduced on April 7, 2015, would go a bit further, making veterans eligible for non-VA mental health care regardless of where the veteran lives, the date on which the veteran enrolled in VA health care, or whether or not the veteran tried to get an appointment for mental health care at a VA facility.
On March 25, 2015, the Ruth Moore Act of 2015 was introduced in the House. This bill is almost identical to the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 that had passed the House, but died in the Senate. Hopefully it will make it through this time around. The Ruth Moore Act allows for Mental Disorders caused by MST to be considered service-connected, and thus eligible for Military Disability, even if the original incident wasn’t reported, as long as a mental health professional diagnoses the condition as being caused by MST and there is sufficient evidence that the trauma did occur. (Further details on “sufficient evidence” of MST can be found in our earlier article on MST Awareness.) The VA would also be directed to decide any reasonable doubts in favor of the veteran.

All of these bills are still in the early stage. We will keep an eye on their progress and let you know if and when any of them are signed into law.

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