This Note argues that legislation requiring improved mental health treatment for veterans of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) is necessary to protect American service members from the dangers of mental illness. In order to prevent crimes and suicides committed by veterans of OIF and OEF as a result of undiagnosed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), the United States Congress should enact legislation imposing requirements on all branches of the military that: 1) mandates screening of all veterans at risk for PTSD upon their return from deployment; 2) ensures veterans are provided with adequate and timely mental healthcare; and 3) increases education and outreach regarding mental health disease as serious and legitimate battle wounds. Perhaps if Sgt. Russell had been subject to immediate screening upon returning from his first two tours of duty, instead of commencing counseling during his third tour, the lives of Sergeant Russell and the five men he killed would have been spared. Part II of this Note details the relationship between the military and PTSD. Part III describes efforts already made by Congress and the military in responding to the challenges presented by PTSD and veterans of OIF and OEF. In Part IV, this Note suggests policy solutions that will help to decrease the number of veterans who suffer from PTSD, and thus decrease the number of suicides and homicides committed by them. Part IV also addresses budget concerns for implementing such legislation, and offers statewide programs that will assist veterans in the alternative of the suggested legislation.
Note, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Military: The Need for Legislative Improvement of Mental Health Care for Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, 24 J.L. & Health 183 (2011)