INDIANAPOLIS -- U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, says his latest effort on military suicide prevention aims to help servicemembers and veterans connect with mental health providers in their communities.
The effort follows up on Donnelly’s 2014 legislation that allowed all military members to receive annual mental health screenings.
Donnelly says his latest package of bills, recently signed into law, helps servicemembers find mental health providers attuned to their specific needs.
Donnelly says one way is to expand training beyond traditional mental health providers.
“Not just Department of Defense psychiatrists and psychologists; not just private psychiatrists and psychologists. We’re trying to add people in with physician assistants as well,” he says.
Donnelly’s legislation also creates a designation for private providers that receive specialized training for dealing with servicemembers and their unique issues.
Indiana National Guard Behavioral Health Officer Scott Edwards says that’s particularly useful for the National Guard, which he calls a community-embedded organization.
“It’s an organization that’s not authorized to provide direct treatment to servicemembers so it only makes sense that we reach out to civilian providers that live and work in these communities as well,” Edward says.
Servicemembers will have access to a public registry of private providers who earn the special designation.