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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Blunt discusses mental health, base security

  • During his visit to Pulaski County, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt stopped by the Daily Guide on Friday to discuss the need to improve General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital (GLWACH), mental health issues facing the military and problems with military base security.
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  • During his visit to Pulaski County, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt stopped by the Daily Guide on Friday to discuss the need to improve General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital (GLWACH), mental health issues facing the military and problems with military base security.
    On Friday, Blunt met with local military leaders at GLWACH. Blunt said that he has been advocating for the Department of Defense to fund construction at the hospital.
    Earlier in April, Blunt participated in a U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on defense health where he questioned a panel of military surgeons about GLWACH.
    “I was talking about the ongoing need to replace that facility,” Blunt said. “It is at the top of the Army Surgeon General's list for Army health care to replace this facility. But, like a lot of things in the military, it has been pushed off.”
    GLWACH is the second oldest hospital in the Army and the only in-patient, emergency-room equipped facility in Pulaski County.
    “What you have [at GLWACH] is ongoing maintenance and other costs in a facility that no longer would be what you design for today's health care,” Blunt said.
    Blunt said that GLWACH has above-average facilities and care when it comes to mental health — a hot-button issue facing the military especially since the recent tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas.
    “Fort Leonard Wood has a very strong family and retiree component on the base for behavioral health and normally, that is not the case,” Blunt said. “At this hospital, they seem to be ahead of everyone else in seeing that if they have behavioral health under control, you're going to have much better odds of dealing with other health problems.”
    Blunt said he also discussed the process of detecting mental health issues among military recruits while he was at Fort Leonard Wood and said legislators and military leaders are working to improve the process of addressing mental health among active-duty military members and veterans.
    “Nearly one in four Americans are living with diagnosable mental illnesses nationwide,” Blunt said. “Whether they are in the military or other parts of our society, we must start treating these behavioral illnesses just like any other physical illness and work to provide these Americans with the same opportunity for a cure.”
    Blunt said that there are many factors contributing to mental health problems among military members and veterans.
    “It's important to look at mental health problems that all veterans have, not just the ones who deployed,” he said.
    The Iraq war veteran who killed three people earlier this month in Fort Hood was being treated for mental health but didn't see combat according to the Associated Press.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Fort Hood tragedy marked the third mass shooting on a military base in the last five years. Blunt said that base security is “an issue that needs to be looked at.
    “Service members and their families should have every confidence that the safest place in the world should be a military base in the United States,” Blunt said. “It is the obligation of the military and Congress to do whatever is necessary to see that happens.
    Blunt said that the no-weapons policy on military posts should certainly be looked at. Since 1992, soldiers on military bases have not been allowed to carry weapons, with the exception of military police.
    “Congress should look to see if the no-weapons policy issued in 1992 is the right policy,” he said. “It might be the right policy for most people, but it could be you should have at least one person with a weapon. I’d rather it be an officer or a senior enlisted member.”
    Blunt said he doesn't have a stance on whether or not soldiers should be able to carry weapons on post or not, but he wants the military to answer that question of whether the 1992 policy is the right policy.
    “It makes some sense to me that someone in a unit with a weapon could provide better immediate protection than calling military police,” he said. “If you can't trust commanders in a unit with a weapon, than why are they commanders? I'm interested to hear what the military thinks about that.”

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