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Close gaps in care

September 27, 2008

Re "Psych exams urged for vets," Sept. 21

Your article underscored gaps in veterans' access to mental health treatment -- particularly in post-deployment screening.

Too many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return home with mental health wounds. One in five suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and one-third are diagnosed with mental health issues. Last year, more than 100 U.S. military men and women committed suicide.

Mandating mental health screenings for all soldiers leaving the service will reduce the number of veterans whose conditions go untreated, and will minimize the stigma associated with soldiers receiving mental health screening and treatment.

Left untreated, mental health issues make soldiers' reintegration a harrowing task. We need coordinated efforts at the local, state and federal levels to ensure returning veterans receive the necessary care they deserve.

James R. Knickman

New York

The writer is president and chief executive of the New York State Health Foundation.

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