Two Critical Programs that Study Military Trauma Are at Risk

I just wrote this post for the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute with my colleague Harold Kudler, who was Chief Consultant for Mental Health for the VA until he retired.

Op-Ed: Two Mental Health Centers Hit with Defense Budget Cuts

Why Closure of Military Trauma Programs Under the National Defense Authorization Act Is Poor Policy

Over the past three years, the Trump Administration and Congress have made military and veteran mental health issues as well as the epidemic of military and veteran suicide a top priority.  Today, with the coronavirus pandemic and the protests following the death of George Floyd, the strains that lead to mental health problems and suicide among this population are even more severe. It is baffling – indeed almost incomprehensible – that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) being considered by Congress would result in the shuttering of two critical programs that help clinicians, policymakers, administrators, and the general public better understand and respond to the consequences of military trauma.

These are The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) and the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP). They are part of the Department of Defense based at the Uniformed Services University (USU), the nation’s federal health professions academy in Bethesda, Maryland.

Unfortunately, very few Congressional representatives and their legislative aides are aware of the threat to these programs. That’s because expenditures that fund these two centers are not broken out as line items in the NDAA. What is a line item is the proposed budget for the Uniformed Services University, which faces serious cuts that will force the elimination of these two programs.  Sources have told us that unless averted, USU budget cuts would force the shuttering of these two critical programs by FY 2022.

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