Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
|For Immediate Release: |
March 29, 2006
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Boxer Calls on Rumsfeld to Review Policy of Sending Troops with Mental Health Conditions back to Iraq
Washington, D.C. B In response to reports that U.S. military personnel with mental health conditions are being redeployed to Iraq, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today urged Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to promptly re-examine Department of Defense redeployment policies.
Following please find Senator Boxer’s letter to Secretary Rumsfeld:
The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:
I am writing today to express my grave concern over reports that U.S. military personnel with mental health conditions are being redeployed to Iraq. I believe such practices could have extremely serious consequences - particularly due to the violent and stressful nature of the situation in Iraq - and request that the Department of Defense undertake a prompt review.
On March 19, the San Diego Union Tribune ran a story disclosing that U.S. military personnel – many of whom are taking anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication – are being re-deployed to Iraq despite being diagnosed with mental health conditions. According to the article, medical officers for both the Army and Marine Corps “acknowledged that medicated service members – and those suffering combat-induced psychological problems – are returning to war.” Over the past few months, my office has received similar reports from military doctors and service members.
With the support of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was able to insert a provision into the Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Authorization bill to establish a Defense Task Force on Mental Health. The purpose of the task force is to comprehensively examine and make recommendations to improve matters relating to mental health and the Armed Forces. I believe the task force – which is required by law to be established before April 7, 2006 – would be an appropriate vehicle for examining Department of Defense deployment policies for service members suffering from mental health conditions.
In the interim, I would like you to provide my office with an overview of what – if any –policies currently govern the practice of redeploying service members who have been diagnosed with mental health conditions.
Thank you for your consideration of this very important request.
United States Senator