Bill Expanding Mental Health
Service for Military Personnel
October 26, 3013
HARRISBURG- Thursday, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed Senator
Stewart J. Greenleaf’s SB 81 to allow volunteer doctors to provide free mental
health services to military personnel and their families.
SB 81 amends Pennsylvania’s Volunteer Health Services Act to
allow retired or currently practicing healthcare professionals, such as
psychologists, psychiatrists, and councilors, to provide free, voluntary mental
health services to military personal inside or outside of a clinical setting
such as a community center, church, school, or library. Currently, the
law only applies to those who provide volunteer services to low income
Mental health professionals practicing in good faith would
be exempt from civil liability, currently a major roadblock to volunteer
“Returning veterans are in critical need of mental health
services, and volunteer doctors can be a critical part of meeting the mental
health needs of our military personnel,” said Senator Greenleaf.
Senator Greenleaf learned about this issue from a retired
psychiatrist who attempted to obtain a license to volunteer, but was denied.
Over 2.3 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and
Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. Over 40 percent have been deployed
more than once. According to the journal of Military Medicine, 62 percent
have reported receiving mental healthcare since returning home. About
12.1 percent are unemployed.
The tremendous number of people in need of treatment have
overwhelmed the VA and many are reluctant to seek treatment because they fear
it may jeopardize their career. Volunteer services require no paperwork,
insurance claims, and are confidential.
“These men and women have undergone incredible stresses and
so have their spouses and children,” said Senator Greenleaf. “Veterans
deserve this help, and with so many doctors willing and ready to assist them,
the Legislature should act quickly to make it possible.”
SB 81 will now go to the House of Representative for