Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act

Mar 20, 2015 Issues: Health Care

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-D) Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-R) introduced H.R. 1465, the Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act.  The bill, which has strong bipartisan support and the support of a large number of military and mental health advocacy groups, will help the military identify behavioral health issues and improve suicide prevention by instituting a mental health assessment for all incoming military recruits.

“It is heartbreaking to see the staggering number of veterans who are suffering from PTSD and TBI in our country,” said Congressman Ryan. “Our military makes sure every serviceman and woman is physically fit for duty, and this legislation will ensure that they are also mentally fit. It will also give us a better baseline to measure any potential mental harm they may have incurred during their duty. These men and women put their lives on the line every day in the service of our nation, it is our duty to do everything in our power to guarantee they return home safely, both physically and mentally.”

“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 of our military veterans commit suicide every day — one every 65 minutes, to be precise,” said Congressman Thompson.  “The Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act will ensure that service members are mentally fit to serve our nation by establishing a mental health assessment at the time recruits are first joining the military. These brave men and women deserve our complete support and we must do everything that we can to ensure they receive necessary treatment during their service and transition back into civilian life.”

“The American Psychological Association has a long-standing commitment to promoting health and well-being among military personnel, veterans, and their families. We support the Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers Act and applaud the efforts of Rep. Thompson and Rep. Ryan to strengthen DoD’s prevention, assessment, and treatment capacities for those wishing to serve our nation, those who are currently serving, and those who have served,” said Heather O’Beirne Kelly, PhD, American Psychological Association Lead for Military and Veterans’ Policy.

This bipartisan, bicameral MEPS Act will institute a preliminary mental health assessment at the time recruits are first joining the military. An Army study confirmed the need to address mental health issues in a timely manner, finding that “nearly one in five Army soldiers enter the service with a psychiatric disorder, and nearly half of all soldiers who tried suicide first attempted it before enlisting.” Additionally, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a large percentage of suicides in the military were individuals who had never been deployed in a combat role. The MEPS Act brings mental health to parity with physical health and will ensure that our incoming troops are both physically and mentally fit to serve.

The MEPS Act has a Senate companion bill, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). 

Support for the Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act: Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers’ Association of America, Reserve Officers’ Association, National Military Family Association, Association of the U.S. Navy, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the American Psychological Association, and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.