Access to mental health resources improves for veterans - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Access to mental health resources improves for veterans

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – This year's National Defense Authorization Act includes an extension to telemedicine assistance for military veterans under the Transitional Assistance Management Program, also known as TAMP.

Pennsylvania Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) spearheaded the campaign to include an amendment to the NDA, which adds an extra 180 days of telemedicine health care coverage.

"The NDA is really about providing the resources to keep our men and women, who are serving this country in uniform…to keep them safe, keep them effective, and to make sure that their needs are met, especially when their time comes that they're done serving the nation," Thompson said.

In the past, returning veterans only have access to health care for 180 days through TAMP, which can be problematic for veterans who suffer from mental health ailments, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"When I look at the statistics about the onset of PTSD, that normally is somewhere around 9-10 months and so there's a gap there," Thompson said.

The amendment is specific to telemedicine, which allows veterans to use technology to communicate with health care professionals.

"So you can reach out from the comfort of your dining room table using Skype or FaceTime or some telemedicine technology in order to get help," Thompson said.

He said extending the access to telemedicine coverage may allow veterans, who otherwise would not, seek help.

"It reduces that stigma...walking into a mental health setting for the first time," Thompson said.

TAMP is only for members of the military, but Thompson said he is working with other lawmakers on Capitol Hill to help civilians get access to similar mental health programs.

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