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Rep. Waters’ Amendment to Help Soldiers Rejected by Republican Leadership

July 30, 2009
Press Release

Late Wednesday night, Congresswoman Maxine Waters' (CA-35) amendment to strengthen the Department of Defense screening process for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for active duty soldiers was rejected by the House Rules Committee, a Committee which is largely an extension of the House Republican Leadership.

"I am extremely disappointed that the Rules Committee did not make my amendment in order," said Congresswoman Waters.  "Post traumatic stress disorder can be among the most debilitating effects of war.  People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged.  Many soldiers have trouble holding jobs; others become violent and/or addicted to drugs and alcohol."

"According to an article in today's Washington Post, the Government Accountability Office found that ‘nearly four in five service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were found to be at risk for PTSD were never referred by government clinicians for further help.  In all, 9,145 of 178,664 service members who took the screening test were found to be at risk. Of those at risk, 22 percent were referred for help.'"

Congresswoman Waters said, "Unbelievably, according to the article, the Department of Defense was unable to explain why only a small fraction of the troops were referred for help.  I hope these soldiers are not turned away because of concerns about costs, as many veterans groups believe. My amendment would have strengthen the screening process and provided additional funding for treatment." 

Congresswoman Waters' amendment called for the Department of Defense to strengthen its screening process of soldiers returning from deployment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by consulting with the Department of Veterans' Affairs, veterans service organizations, the American Psychiatric Association and other relevant groups.  It also authorized $15 million for treatment of those diagnosed with PTSD.

Congresswoman Waters concluded, "I am disappointed that the Republican Leadership did not make this amendment in order.  Our soldiers need and deserve first rate health care, and this amendment was intended to strengthen that care.  Unfortunately, the Republicans put politics ahead of our troops."