July 27, 2007

American Psychological Association Praises Presidential Commission’s Call for Improved Treatment for PTSD and Brain Injury for Returning Service Members

WASHINGTON--The American Psychological Association (APA) welcomes the report of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, and applauds its emphasis on the mental health needs of returning service members and their families.

"We are particularly heartened by the commission's call for improving the treatment of military personnel who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injuries," said APA President Sharon Stephens Brehm, PhD. "Additionally, we wholeheartedly support the commission's call for reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care. Such action will help ensure that military personnel and veterans who need care will actually obtain it."

The recommendations offered by the commission, which was co-chaired by former Senator Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, will help to guide the work of a recently created APA task force. The APA Presidential Task Force on the Psychological Needs of U.S. Military Service Members and their Families will begin its work this fall and is expected to produce a report next year. It will build upon the association's efforts to increase training for military psychologists and other mental health professionals through the recently created Center for Deployment Psychology.

APA also lauds the commission's recommendation to strengthen support for the families of injured service members, to take quality of life into account in determining veterans' disability payments, and to streamline the systems that have made it difficult for military personnel to access appropriate care when they need it.

"Together with the recent release of the Defense Department's mental health task force report, our nation's attention is now intently focused on meeting the mental health needs of our service members and their families," added Ellen Garrison, PhD, APA's senior policy advisor. "It is imperative that we do all that we can to achieve this goal."

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.