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Legislation Connects Servicemembers With Community Health Providers

Col. Frederic A. Drummond Jr., Chicago District commander, speaks to Sen. Joe Donnelly during a Congressional Staff tour at Brandon Road Lock and Dam, Joliet, Ill., April 22, 2014.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly says his latest effort on military suicide prevention aims to help servicemembers and veterans connect with mental health providers in their communities.  That follows up on Donnelly’s 2014 legislation that allowed all military members to receive annual mental health screenings.

Senator Joe Donnelly says his latest package of bills, recently signed into law, helps servicemembers find mental health providers attuned to their specific needs.  Donnelly says one way is to expand training beyond traditional mental health providers.

“Not just Department of Defense psychiatrists and psychologists; not just private psychiatrists and psychologists," he says. "We’re trying to add people in with physician assistants as well.”

Donnelly’s legislation also creates a designation for private providers that receive specialized training for dealing with servicemembers and their unique issues.  Indiana National Guard Behavioral Health Officer Scott Edwards says that’s particularly useful for the National Guard, which he calls a community-embedded organization.

"If an organization that's not authorized to provide direct treatment to servicemembers, so it only makes sense that we reach out to civilian providers that live and work in these communities as well," he says.

Servicemembers will have access to a public registry of private providers who earn the special designation.  

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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