H. R. 4305
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 26, 2014
Mr. Thompson of Pennsylvania (for himself, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Mr. Roe of Tennessee, Mrs. Christensen, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Kelly of Pennsylvania, Mr. Marino, Mr. Jones, Mr. Bishop of Utah, Mr. Barletta, and Mr. Meadows) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services
To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide an individual with a mental health assessment before the individual enlists in the Armed Forces or is commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces.
This Act may be cited as the
Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers Act of 2014
Congress finds the following:
More focus needs to be put on mental health in America.
The large number of suicides among veterans and members of the Armed Forces is unacceptable, especially given that more members have died by suicide than in combat.
Many of those suicides in the military were members of the Armed Forces who never deployed.
Members of the Armed Forces, having been at war for more than a decade, have been put through acute physical and mental stress.
Many of the suicides in the Armed Forces can be prevented, and studies have found that improved screening reduced later behavioral problems by 78 percent and reduced thoughts of suicide by more than half.
Although the military currently has a baseline measurement process for physical health, the military does not currently have similar standards for mental health.
It is important that the military ensures that the members of the Armed Forces are both physically and mentally fit for all the missions the United States requires.
Preliminary mental health assessments
Chapter 31 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
Preliminary mental health assessments
Provision of mental health assessment
Before any individual enlists in an armed force or is commissioned as an officer in an armed force, the Secretary concerned shall provide the individual with a mental health assessment. The Secretary shall use such results as a baseline for any subsequent mental health examinations, including such examinations provided under sections 1074f and 1074m of this title.
Use of assessment
The Secretary may not consider the results of a mental health assessment conducted under subsection (a) in determining the assignment or promotion of a member of the Armed Forces.
Application of privacy laws
With respect to applicable laws and regulations relating to the privacy of information, the Secretary shall treat a mental health assessment conducted under subsection (a) in the same manner as the medical records of a member of the Armed Forces.
The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding after the item relating to section 520c the following new item:
520d. Preliminary mental health assessments.
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health shall submit to Congress and the Secretary of Defense a report on preliminary mental health assessments of members of the Armed Forces.
The report under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
Recommendations with respect to establishing a preliminary mental health assessment of members of the Armed Forces to bring mental health screenings to parity with physical screenings of members.
Recommendations with respect to the composition of the mental health assessment, best practices, and how to track assessment changes relating to traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions.
The National Institute of Mental Health shall carry out paragraph (1) in coordination with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the surgeons general of the military departments, and other relevant experts.