ICYMI: Thompson Military Mental Health Evaluation Bill Viewed As Potential Solution In Aftermath of Fort Hood Shooting

April 7, 2014

Washington, D.C. – On Sunday, April 6, 2014, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (TX-10), the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, advocated for the Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act during a discussion of the April 2, 2014, shooting at Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen, Texas.  The MEPS Act, which was introduced by U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5) on March 27, 2014, would institute a mental health assessment for all incoming military recruits and has the support of a large number of military and mental health advocacy groups.

  • Fox News Sunday: Rep. McCaul on security at stateside military bases: "Let me tell you the suicide rate is twice as high in the military as it is in the general population. We're good at healing broken bodies but not as good at healing broken minds. I'm supporting a bill out there that has -- basically we -- when people enlist in the military, there is a physical check but there's not a mental health evaluation when people enter the service. I think this will be a good idea to, number one, screen out individuals that may have mental illness problems. Number two, have a baseline so that when they return home, we can compare that to where they are when they come back. I think that will go a long way with this mental health issue…” 
  • PolitiFact: McCaul: 'When people enter the service, there’s not a mental health evaluation': "When people enlist in the military, there is a physical check but there's not a mental health evaluation when people enter the service," McCaul. "I think this will be a good idea…McCaul’s office pointed us to legislation introduced by Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Penn. on March 27, 2014 -- coincidentally, just days before the shooting -- called the "Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act." The bill would require a medical evaluation before an individual enlists in the armed forces. According to the legislation, "Although the military currently has a baseline measurement process for physical health, the military does not currently have similar standards for mental health…“Compared to the physical medical examination potential enlistees go through, there is no separate, specific examination of a recruit’s mental health. While the armed services review past medical records for a history of mental health issues and allow for the applicant to offer any additional information, it has not prevented a sizable number of individuals with mental health problems from acceptance. Lawmakers and military officials can debate what steps should or should not be taken, but we can’t find any flaw in McCaul’s characterization of the current procedures. We rate it True.”
  • Pundit Fact: Fact-checking the April 6 News Shows: “McCaul also advocated for more vigorous mental screening before someone enlists. "When people enter the service, there's not a mental health evaluation," he said. That claim turns out to be True. Compared to the physical medical examination potential enlistees go through, there is no separate, specific examination of a recruit's mental health. While the armed services review past medical records for a history of mental health issues and allow for the applicant to offer any additional information, it has not prevented a sizable number of individuals with mental health problems from acceptance, according to at least one study. Just days before the Fort Hood shooting, Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., introduced the "Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act," which would require a medical evaluation before an individual enlists in the armed forces. Although the military currently has a baseline measurement process for physical health, the military does not currently have similar standards for mental health…”

The MEPS Act was introduced with 15 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of the American Psychological Association, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Reserve Officers Association, the Reserve Enlisted Association, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard, the National Military Family Association, the Military Officers Association of America, the Association of the U.S. Navy, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. 

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