The following is an opinion piece examining why the authors believe the closure of military trauma programs under the National Defense Authorization Act is poor policy. It was written by Harold Kudler, M.D., an adjunct associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University. Dr. Kudler has also served as national mental health policy lead in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ central office and helped start the Governor’s Working Group on Veterans, Service Members and their Families here in North Carolina.
The other author is Suzanne Gordon, who wrote Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation’s Veterans. She is a senior policy analyst at the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute.
Over the past three years, the Trump Administration and Congress have made military and veteran mental health issues as well as the epidemic of military and veteran suicide a top priority. Today, with the coronavirus pandemic and the protests following the death of George Floyd, the strains that lead to mental health problems and suicide among this population are even more severe. It is baffling – indeed almost incomprehensible – that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) being considered by Congress would result in the shuttering of two critical programs that help clinicians, policymakers, administrators and the general public better understand and respond to the consequences of military trauma.