Classification May Impede Treatment for Vets
National security secrecy can be an impediment to veterans who are seeking treatment for traumas suffered during military service yet who are technically prohibited from disclosing classified information related to their experience to uncleared physicians or therapists.
The problem was epitomized by the case of U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Somers, who participated in classified Special Operations missions in Iraq. He returned with significant physical, mental and psychological damage. He killed himself in June 2013.
Secrecy, among other factors, appears to have exacerbated his condition, according to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
“One of the struggles Daniel faced was as an individual who had served in classified service,” Rep. Sinema said at a hearing last July. “He was unable to participate in group therapy because he was not able to share [what] he experienced while in service.”
To address this problem, Rep. Sinema last week re-introduced the Classified Veterans Access to Care Act, HR 421.
“The Classified Veterans Access to Care Act ensures that veterans with classified experiences have appropriate access to mental health services from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” she said in a release.
The bill itself would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs “to ensure that each covered veteran may access mental health care provided by the Secretary in a manner that fully accommodates the obligation of the veteran to not improperly disclose classified information.”
The Classified Veterans Access to Care Act was originally introduced in October 2013 (as HR 3387). But although it had, and has, bipartisan support, it was not acted on in the 113th Congress. Nor are its prospects for passage in the new Congress clear. Still, there is nothing to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from addressing the underlying issue, and fixing the problem, without awaiting the formal enactment of Rep. Sinema’s legislation.
“The V.A. welcomes criticism but also needs constructive ideas to succeed,” wrote Drs. Marsden McGuire and Paula Schnurr in a letter to the New York Times last week. “The V.A. is actively engaging community partners, academia, advocates, the private sector and, most important, veterans and their families, to improve services.”
The parents of Sgt. Daniel Somers described his experience, and theirs, in “On Losing a Veteran Son to a Broken System,” New York Times, November 11, 2013.
According to the latest Department of Defense annual report on suicide, “The suicide rate per 100,000 [military personnel] in 2013 was 18.7 for active component service members, 23.4 for reserve component and 28.9 for National Guard.”
That is a decline from the annual suicide rate year before. But the figures from the first quarters of 2014 indicate a further increase in suicide among active duty service members.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons, and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
On 14 April 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence released a short video of a Su-25 pilot explaining his new role in delivering “special [nuclear] munitions” following his training in Russia. The features seen in the video, as well as several other open-source clues, suggest that Lida Air Base––located only 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and the […]
A photo in a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) student briefing from 2022 shows four people inspecting what appears to be a damaged B61 nuclear bomb.
In early-February 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had informed Congress that China now has more launchers for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the United States. The report is the latest in a serious of revelations over the past four years about China’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and the deepening […]