In this Issue
Psych in the news
By Kellye S. Carver
Have you been following the controversy about using Indian personalities as mascots? The decades-old debate has been in the news again lately in reference to the Washington Redskins, an NFL football team. However, numerous religious, government and educational institutions have condemned the derogatory use of Indian personalities for sports teams as far back as the 1960s. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John McCain, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and even President Obama have weighed in on the controversy, with team owner Dan Snyder also writing an open letter to fans in the Washington Post in October 2013. Although Div. 18’s Psychologists in Indian Country Section does not have an official statement, check out statements on this issue from the American Psychological Association and the Society of Indian Psychologists.
Numerous bills have arisen in Congress in an effort to improve VA health care, among them the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. Co-sponsored by Reps. Timothy Walz, D-Minn, Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., the House bill calls for a review of troops who were discharged for reasons related to post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, in hopes that some service members who received less than honorable discharges may still get help. It also includes a proposal for peer support programs and collaboration with the National Guard for improved care. The bill is named for a former Marine and suicide prevention advocate who tragically committed suicide in 2011. Sen. John Walsh of Montana (the first OIF/OEF veteran to serve in Congress), sponsored a similar bill in March of this year in the Senate in collaboration with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) organization. Walsh’s Suicide Prevention for America's Veterans Act would allow veterans to enroll in VA health care up to 15 years after discharge from the military (instead of five), proposes a loan repayment program to booster VA recruiting efforts for mental health professionals, and calls for streamlining communication and collaboration between the Department of Defense and the VA. Both bills also include measures to increase accountability at the Pentagon and VA, as well as increased training to identify at-risk individuals. It is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.You can read the IAVA’s statement on the Senate Bill.
President Obama also signed the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 on Aug. 7, which will allocate over $16 billion to improve VA health care. In terms of growth, the bill allocates $5 billion to hire more medical staff and gives $1.3 billion for 27 new VA clinics nationwide. However, the bill also gives the VA secretary the power to fire higher-up executives with poor job performance. It also sets aside $10 billion for veterans to access private health care over the next three years if they are more than 40 miles from their local VA facility or unable to schedule an appointment quickly.