WASHINGTON, DC- Senator and Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd (D-CT) today urged his colleagues in the Senate, including Senator Daniel Akaka, chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, to consider legislation establishing a moratorium on efforts to close vital mental health facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Dodd, who served in the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard, cited a January 2007 report in which it was found that 73,000 of the 1.4 million troops who had then served in Iraq or Afghanistan had sought mental health treatment, and the Dole-Shalala Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors which found that numerous service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered head injuries which may cause PTSD or traumatic brain injury.
"Closing VA facilities like the one my wife Jackie recently visited in Knoxville, IA, that are dedicated to serving veterans facing mental health challenges, will most certainly result in diminishing the quality and consistency of care these brave warriors receive, at a time when they need it most," Dodd said. "While we're debating whether to continue the war, to end the war, to cut funding for the war, we mustn't lose sight of the servicemen and women who are already there, or on their way there, and who may need care upon their return."
Dodd further requested that the Senate consider expanding, rather than consolidating, the number of VA mental health facilities, particularly in underserved, rural communities.