Just in time for Memorial Day, we hear that an amendment in Honor of Sgt. Coleman S. Bean, Fallen New Jersey Iraq War Veteran written by Representative Rush Holt has passed the House. It seems members of the “Individual Ready Reserve” did not have access to “suicide prevention services and support structures available to active duty troops.” To remedy that failing, the bill will now:
* Require the Secretary of Defense to ensure that members of the IRR who have served at least one tour in either Iraq or Afghanistan will receive a counseling call from properly trained personnel not less than once every 90 days so long as the servicemember remains a member of the IRR.
* Require personnel conducting this call to determine the emotional, psychological, medical, and career needs and concerns of the IRR member. Any IRR member identified as being at risk of harming his or her self would be referred immediately to the nearest military treatment facility or accredited TRICARE provider for immediate evaluation and treatment by a qualified mental health care provider, and in those cases the Secretary would be required to confirm that the at-risk IRR member has received the evaluation, and if necessary treatment.
* Require the Secretary of Defense, beginning in January 2011, to report to the Congress not less than yearly on the number of IRR members not assigned to units who have been referred for counseling or mental health treatment, as well as the health and career status of said servicemembers.
Sgt. Bean’s mother, Linda Bean, had said this about the legislation:
“Since Coleman’s death, we have come to know that one phone call – just one honest expression of compassion – can help catch and hold someone who is at the edge of despair. For us, if the phone calls mandated by this legislation help save one life – then that is blessing enough,” Bean said.
The Authorization bill, which also includes the DADT repeal, has now passed the House and now will have to be considered by the Senate.