Image Copyright: thompson.house.gov
A recent Army study says nearly one in five Soldiers enter the service with a psychiatric disorder, and nearly half of all Soldiers who tried suicide first attempted it before enlisting. This is a scary and heart-breaking statistic, and something we hear about all too much with tragedies such as the April 2 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
On May 22 the House passed a bill that may prevent future military suicides and maybe even massive shootings. The National Institutes of Health will create a mental health screening for potential recruits that would catch past suicide attempts and psychiatric disorders. The information could be used to weed out candidates with potentially dangerous mental health issues.
Right now, potential recruits are asked about past suicide attempts or mental disorders, and the military conducts security background checks. Clearly the informal screening has not been as effective as it should be.
With the Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act, our military will be better equipped to help potential recruits and all service members protect themselves and those around them.
Granted, the bill will prevent some from having the honor of serving our country, but not everyone is fit for the military. It’s best to detect mental health issues and turn away recruits, than to set them up for failure and potential tragedy.
Many say these changes were a long time coming. Do government officials have to witness tragedies like Fort Hood and Washington Navy Yard to enact change? Should the mental health screening go beyond potential recruits and include active duty members? Is there something more we should be doing?
Comment below or weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military network.