WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the victims from the most recent shooting in Fort Hood are laid to rest, the conversation continues on Capitol Hill about how to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.
“We do a great physical evaluation, medical evaluation when you join the service,” said Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), “But we don’t do a mental health screening or evaluation.”
So, Thompson introduced the MEPS, or Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers, Act.
“What the MEPS Act is designed to do is to keep people safe, and keep people well,” he said. “It provides a requirement for a mental health evaluation at the time of enlistment into the service.”
The bill was introduced six days before the recent Ft. Hood shooting. Thompson said it needs to be discussed and passed, because although it couldn’t prevent the most recent tragedy, it could prevent similar shootings in the future.
“As a country we really have failed when it comes to doing the right things for folks who are suffering from these chronic conditions,” he said.
Thompson said, he thinks, the mental health screenings will allow the government to catch and treat any problems someone is having before they serve. It’s something, he said, we owe to our military members.
“We have an obligation to take care of the men and women who protect and take care of us in the service of this country,” he said.
The bill is getting a lot of support, from both sides of the aisle in the House, but it doesn’t stop there. The MEPS Act was recently introduced in the Senate, and has seen bi-partisan support in that chamber, too.