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Davis / 2 Senator G.

Lin

S.S.S.____

A BILL
To provide up to 2 billion dollars to be divided annually among VA hospitals for improvements in service with a
special focus on PTSD therapy and treatment programs.
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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
This act may be cited as the Veterans Therapy Act of 2016.
SECTION 2. FINDINGS
Congress hereby finds and declares that,
1) Wait times for VA hospitals are so long that veterans are dying while waiting for care and the problem is
exacerbated by geographic barriers, facility-specific complications, and insufficient amount of office hours.
2) Veterans who have PTSD are more likely to develop other mental disorders and often become significantly more
aggressive and violent.
3) On average, 2,500 veterans commit suicide every year and veterans are three times more likely to commit suicide
than civilians, an issue that is worsened by untreated PTSD due to lack of therapists.
4) VA doctors carry workloads of more than 2,000 patients which is far above the 1,200 goal proposed.
5) Across the nation, VA hospitals impose their own set of policies and the inconsistencies between these policies
inhibit veterans from getting treatment in a timely and affordable manner.
6) The research network within the VA has difficulties assessing the current rates of medical problems among
veterans because of inconsistent measuring instruments.
7) From 2009 to 2011, the VA witnessed a 29% increase in disability claims and has been unable to keep pace with
this increase.
8) The VA system is ill-prepared and unequipped to deal with the massive demand for both the physical and mental
care of their patients.
9) There are more veterans filing for disability benefits than any other generation before the 9/11 attack.
10) Veterans are threatened by their superiors physically and with discharge when they try to apply for medical leave
due to PTSD.
SECTION 3. STATUTORY LANGUAGE
A) The Veterans Therapy Act of 2016 shall provide up to 2 billion dollars annually for the improvement of service,
especially for PTSD therapy programs. This may include the assessment of present programs for the purpose of
reformation, creation of outpatient clinics specific to this need in high veteran density areas, the hiring of more wellqualified therapists, the upgrading of necessary tools and machinery, and other measures deemed necessary by the
Department of Veterans Affairs. The 2 billion dollars will be apportioned according to the number of patients and use
of each individual VA hospital.
B) The Department of Veterans Affairs shall oversee the actions of this bill as the enforcement agency. 2 billion
dollars shall be taken from military spending annually to provide for this bill. The Department of Veterans Affairs
(DVA) will be in charge of assessing each hospital and outpatient clinic as to rank them in order of need. Hospitals
lacking sufficient and effective programs for PTSD shall be given more money than those that have adequate
services. Likewise, hospitals with more patients shall receive more funding. Should these two factors conflict (e.g.
inadequate treatment programs but low patient numbers), the hospital with higher patient numbers has priority over
the one with lower patient numbers. The rankings will be reevaluated every three years and the funds reapportioned
accordingly.
C) An additional 1 billion dollars (also taken from military spending) shall be divided between the top ten VA
hospitals and clinics that show notable improvements in PTSD and TBI treatment programs for the purpose of
improving other sectors of treatment.This bill shall be enacted January 1, 2017.
Improvements to the VA system are of the utmost importance because the lack of accessibility and
insufficient therapy treatments are impeding veterans from acquiring the necessary aid. It causes further debilitation

of the mind and body which negatively affects assimilation into society and correlates to shockingly high suicide
rates.

The primary obstacle for veterans trying to get treatment for PTSD is physical access to the hospitals. For
many veterans, the simple act of getting to their assigned VA hospital is rendered virtually impossible by
distance as well as difficulty in finding transportation. For some, the trip to the VA hospital is a day long
endeavor encompassing around 150 miles. This is more than enough to dissuade veterans, with or without
PTSD, to attempt the journey. Another major impediment is the lack of office hours and the resulting
lengthy waiting periods. The thirty day waiting period is intolerable for those who suffer from PTSD. Even
if ineffective prescriptions and therapy programs needed to be modified or discontinued, veterans are
forced to continue under that regiment until they can finally reach the hospital. In that time period, their
condition could deteriorate even more and possibly lead to death. The VA is simply not equipped to deal
with the demand placed on them. The rapidly changing and constantly evolving warfront has significantly
increased the number of veterans requiring medical care but the VA system failed to adapt to and combat
this development. Their incompetence is costing millions of dollars while veterans mental and physical
health continues to decline.
The presence of PTSD is often a catalyst for the development of other mental disorders and addictions. The
effects of PTSD often manifest in the form of other disorders such as depression, anxiety, and antisocial
disorder. Veterans are also at higher risk for developing drug and alcohol dependency. The combination of
all these factors greatly stymies a veterans assimilation into civilian life. The presence of PTSD in
conjunction with other psychosocial disorders negatively impacts a veterans ability to get a job, an
important factor in re-establishing a civilian life. PTSD patients are seen as unstable no matter the severity
of their diagnosis. Physically, veterans with mental disorders suffer disproportionately more from ailments
such as hearing problems, tendonitis, spinal issues, and obesity among others. PTSD also triggers changes
in perception and response to that change is often handled poorly. Families and friends of PTSD patients
often have to deal with unhealthy and, at times, violent behaviors such as domestic and child abuse. A
vicious cycle then begins. The patient acts in a violent manner which then causes withdrawal of support.
Consequently the behavior worsens and escalates in many cases.
The lack of a social support network and diminishing sense of self-worth along with other risk factors have
resulted in alarming suicide rates among veterans a rate of 22 veteran suicides a day to be exact. The role
of PTSD in veteran suicides is undeniable. A study was conducted on refugees, a demographic that often
witnesses the same horrors as soldiers do. Approximately 79% of refugees with suicide ideation were
diagnosed with PTSD. If PTSD has such an overwhelming effect on a noncombatant population, then the
implications for veterans are even graver. They not only witness those atrocities, they have to commit some
of them at times. Suicide ideation was most prominently influenced by PTSD (one of six diagnoses that
were shown to have significant correlation with suicide rates) in another study. Moreover, since many other
disorders can be traced back to PTSD (e.g. depression), its kill rate is potentially even higher than the
projected numbers. With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder being the root cause of a majority of veteran
suicides, it is imperative that the VA system be better prepared and equipped to treat these patients in a
timely and effective manner.