Montana Delegation Lauds Progress in PTSD Screenings

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – U.S. Sen. Max Baucus lauded the military Monday for progress made so far in providing post-combat treatment for stress disorders in a program modeled after one developed in the Montana National Guard.

The program was backed by Montana’s congressional delegation in 2009 and requires the military to provide one-on-one Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder screening for troops.

Supporters say the program will ensure that troops are healthy when they return home. It was launched in the wake of increasing concern over suicides and had the backing of the state’s congressional delegation from both sides of the aisle.

“Sen. Baucus deserves a lot of credit for his leadership on this issue in the Senate, and I’m happy I was able to put together the bipartisan support necessary to get it through the House,” U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican, said in a news release. “At the end of the day, it’s our brave men and women in uniform who benefit, and it goes to show what we can accomplish when we work together on behalf of our troops.”

The report released Monday by Baucus, a Democrat, said that the Army is leading the way with 400,000 screenings completed so far. Training of health care providers continues, and the Navy and Marine Corps are expected to implement the program by the end of the month.

Baucus and supporters said key features of the program include private counseling sessions that allow trained mental health care workers to identify problems. There are also follow-up sessions to make sure situations are being dealt with.

Baucus said the horrors of war are known to cause problems that can last a lifetime.

“This progress is really more important than ever with thousands of troops set to return home from Iraq later this year,” Baucus said. “Thanks to the law, they are now getting personal and private attention from a trained health care provider.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a co-sponsor, said the nation owes it to the troops to make sure PTSD is adequately addressed.

“These screenings serve as an effective safety net because too many unseen injuries are never treated, and many aren’t evident right away,” Tester said. “Proper post-deployment screenings help deliver whatever treatment may be needed, whenever treatment is necessary.”