Mon September 12, 2011
Bill links National Guard vets with mental health care
By CATHERINE WELCH
PROVIDENCE, RI – U.S. Senator Jack Reed has modeled legislation on a program out of the Red Sox Foundation that helps combat veterans and their families get mental health care. The Home Base Program links veterans in New England grappling with PTSD or traumatic brain injury to clinical and support care through Massachusetts General Hospital.
Reed's bill will help National Guard and Reserve members because they fold back into their communities instead of returning to military bases that provide structure and support for combat veterans and their families.
The legislation takes Defense Department money earmarked for mental health services and uses it to create five new centers across the country that connect physicians, researchers and outreach centers. Reed says the centers are similar to the Red Sox Foundation's Home Base Program that's already connecting troops with experts at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"How often can you get some of the best minds at Mass. General dedicated to thinking through this problem, and getting those solutions out nation-wide, world-wide really," says Reed.
The Home Base Program was sparked by a team visit to Walter Reed Hospital, says Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner who sees room for similar programs, "it doesn't compete with the Veterans Administration and the hospitals; it joins them in trying to deliver much-needed help to our veterans and their families."
PTSD and traumatic brain injury are known as signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with studies showing nearly one in five returning troops experiencing one or both.
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