Veterans’ Mental Health Care in Obama’s Iraq Address

Last week, President Barack Obama addressed the nation and announced the end of combat operations in Iraq. This announcement holds weight for troops stationed overseas, but for soldiers back home, other elements of the president’s address were far more immediately relevant. President Obama spoke of two pieces of legislation passed since his election: the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (or CVOHSA). The Post-9/11 GI Bill, among other thing, has made college education possible for some 300,000 veterans. But the newer bill, the CVOHSA, focuses specifically on providing returning veterans with improved health care, which includes not only physical health but psychological, cognitive, and emotional health as well.

As explored by Meredith Melnick of Time magazine, the CVOHSA pursues several elements of veterans’ care that have been needed for quite some time. Firstly, when a veteran returns with an injury (visible or not) that requires care at home, CVOHSA will make it easier for the family to care for that soldier without undue burden. One family member can be named the official caregiver of that soldier; this person will receive a competitive salary as well as personal medical and psychological support while caring for the veteran and acting as his or her liaison with the VA.

The CVOHSA also reaches out to veterans in rural areas, where VA services are less prevalent and more difficult to access, as well as veterans of previous wars, particularly those affected by Agent Orange. These commitments to better health and mental health care are paired with a commitment to assessing other limitations within the VA system. Female troops experience a high rate (almost one third) of sexual assault, and suicide rates across the military as a whole are the highest they’ve ever been. Both of these issues will be the subject of further study, supported by the CVOHSA, to better understand what military personnel are dealing with and to provide an environment, both during deployment and back home, that is safer both physically and psychologically.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Johnna


    September 8th, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    The care of our veterans and their families has been ignored for much too long now. I hope that with these new next steps that they will get the care that they rightfully deserve. It shames me to read of some stories of many soldiers who have beem denied care or who have been made to think that the carte that they need is really unnecessary. I think that the very least that we can do as a country for the soldiers who have protected us in times of good and bad is to at least provide them with healthcare so that they do not have to worry about getting sick and how they will pay the bills.

  • Iris


    September 8th, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    The far reaching implications of a well planned and thought out bill such as this could be critical in not only saving the lives of our current veterans but helping service to one’s country remain a viable option for those who may have previously thought about it but turned away from it because of the lack of care and respect that they felt like they would ultimately receive via joining. I hope that all of the hard work does not stop here, but it does at least sound like a wonderful start.

  • russell


    September 8th, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    I’v heard of quite a lot of veterans struggling with psychological issues and more often than not mental health care is not covered for them.I just hope this brings relief to all such veterans.

  • CHRIS P.

    CHRIS P.

    September 9th, 2010 at 6:46 AM

    Its pretty obvious tht a war-situation is nt oly physically draining bt mentally stressful 2.D army is no small organization n they should really have kept this in mind n provided 4r complete mental health coverage right from d very beginning.Although a lot of people r sure to benefit from this new rule,a lot of people have suffered because this rule just didnt exist in d past!

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