Thompson MEPS Act (H.R. 1465) Adopted as Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, by a vote of 269-151, with Thompson voting in the affirmative.  Included in the legislation was Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson’s (PA-05) amendment that will improve military suicide prevention by instituting a mental health assessment for all incoming military recruits, which can be used as a baseline for evaluations throughout their military careers. Upon passage of the bill, Thompson issued the following statement:

“We make sure that every incoming service member is physically fit to serve.  We also provide great care to those who are injured in the line of duty, but not all injuries are easily recognized.  My amendment adopted as part of the National Defense Authorization will ensure that recruits receive a mental health screening to be used as a baseline throughout their service careers.  The military is making great strides to assist these courageous men and women with mental health issues that arise from service related injuries, including post-traumatic stress, brain injury, and heightened suicide risks.  This amendment furthers those goals.  It is our responsibility to be there for our heroes throughout their service, when they get home and as they continue to transition into civilian life.”

Thompson’s amendment will institute a preliminary mental health assessment at the time recruits are first joining the military.  An Army study confirmed the need to address mental health issues in a timely manner, finding that “nearly one in five Army soldiers enter the service with a psychiatric disorder, and nearly half of all soldiers who tried suicide first attempted it before enlisting.”  Additionally, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a large percentage of suicides in the military were individuals who had never been deployed in a combat role.  Thompson’s amendment brings mental health to parity with physical health and will ensure that our incoming troops are both physically and mentally fit to serve.

On May 14, 2015, Thompson spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives urging his colleagues to support his amendment.

Support for the Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act: Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers’ Association of America, Reserve Officers’ Association, National Military Family Association, Association of the U.S. Navy, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the American Psychological Association, and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.