Buchanan Demands Inclusion of Military Mental Health, Drug Disposal Bills in NDAA

Buchanan Demands Inclusion of Military Mental Health, Drug Disposal Bills in NDAA

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
June 15, 2023

As the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is under consideration by the U.S. Congress, Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has written a letter demanding two provisions in the form of bills he has introduced in Congress.

The first bill is the Treating Invisible Wounds on Base Act, which would require the Department of Defense (D0D) to identify potential flaws in the military's mental healthcare system and seek solutions. Rep. Buchanan introduced the bill early in April, citing the tragically high number of veteran suicides.

Buchanan cited statistics showing 2021 saw 328 active-duty servicemembers take their own lives. More horrifically, the number of active-duty and veteran suicides from 2002 to 2021 is four times larger than those troops lost in combat, with 30,177 suicides compared to 7,052 combat deaths.

"Military service often takes an immense psychological toll on our service members and far too many are dying by suicide as a result. We need to ensure our men and women in uniform have access to critical mental health care services where they are stationed so they remain healthy and ready to serve their country," Rep. Buchanan said in the letter.

In March, Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL) introduced a similar bill proposing joint research between the United States and Israel in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The second bill Buchanan seeks to add is the Safe Disposal for Servicemembers Act, introduced in January. This bill would require all military bases to install and maintain drop boxes through which servicemembers can dispose of unused prescription drugs. 

Alarmingly, the DoD reported 15,000 overdose incidents among servicemembers between 2017 and 2021. Of those 15,000, 322 were fatal, and 31 were at Fort Bragg alone.

"We must do a better job protecting our nation’s service members from dangerous drugs while they are on base," Buchanan implored in his letter.

Buchanan further described these two bills as "commonsense and bipartisan proposals" that "will not only ensure that our service members have access to critical services when they need them the most but improve the readiness of our Armed Forces as a result."

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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