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 GoodTherapy.org.
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