WASHINGTON - U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield (KY-01) successfully included language in legislation today which would promote the use of new and alternative therapies to aid soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"As the United States continues to combat threats to our nation abroad, it is essential we take advantage of every tool and resource available to help our service men and women returning from war as well as our disabled veterans," Whitfield said. "I was pleased to usher this important provision through Congress which will go a long way in helping to promote the use of new and alternative therapies to aid soldiers suffering from PTSD."
Whitfield's amendment was included in the final conference report of H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010. The conference report is a reconciled version of the bills passed by the House and Senate. The amendment would require the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to provide for a study on efforts to treat PTSD. This report, which will be conducted by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences or another independent entity, must include the effectiveness of alternative therapies in the treatment of PTSD, including the therapeutic use of animals.
Fort Campbell, Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton, Walter Reed and other military installations have been using animals to help treat PTSD with great success. In addition, the Pentagon has been researching new ways to treat soldiers suffering from combat stress or brain damage through the use of these types of alternative therapies. Whitfield offered the amendment to continue to promote the use of these therapies and other innovative techniques that can be as beneficial.
While Whitfield lauded the passage of this important amendment in the legislation, he criticized House leadership for sneaking controversial provisions completely unrelated to funding the United States military into the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill includes language which expands "hate crimes" to include another protected class of citizens. Whitfield has consistently opposed legislation such as this which extends special protections beyond those enjoyed by the rest of the population.
"It is unfortunate that leaders in the House of Representatives chose to jam through Congress controversial legislation on the backs of men and women serving in the United States military," Whitfield said. "Playing politics with funding for our troops is simply unacceptable."
Whitfield reiterated his longstanding commitment to providing the U.S. military with the tools and resources they need, but felt compelled to vote against the legislation today due to the hate crimes provisions included in the bill.
The legislation now awaits final consideration from the Senate.