Rep. Carson Amendment Included in National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), annual federal legislation that authorizes spending and sets policy for the United States military and Department of Defense. Included in the bill was a provision authored by Congressman Carson which makes permanent the requirement for the DOD to provide mental health assessments to deployed service members. This program, originally proposed by Carson in 2011 in his Service Members Mental Health Screening Act and enacted into law as part of the FY 2012 NDAA, was set to expire.
This amendment is the latest success in Carson’s ongoing effort, starting in 2011, to overcome the stigma of mental health treatment and better provide care to service members. Previously, he authored multiple pieces of legislation that were signed into law which strengthened pre- and post-deployment assessments and better informs service members of available services and privacy rights when pursuing treatment.
“Far too many of our men and women have volunteered to deploy into combat, only to return home with serious mental health challenges that can lead to addiction, homelessness, and suicide,” said Carson. “These brave Americans deserve better than this. By providing mid-deployment mental health assessments, as part of a more comprehensive assessment program, we can help catch and begin treatment early. And by ensuring these are universally applied, we can help to remove the stigma attached with pursuing treatment. This program works and I’m pleased we are making it permanent.”
Despite inclusion of his amendment, Congressman Carson voted against final passage of the NDAA because it significantly exceeded the caps set by the Budget Control Act. “The House has a responsibility to pass an NDAA that makes the difficult choices necessary to align our national security priorities with fiscal realities. Despite its many positives, this bill fails to make these choices, instead unsustainably increasing spending across the board.”