U.S. Senator Kit Bond today marked a major victory in the effort to improve the care our active duty service members and veterans suffering from invisible injuries like PTSD and TBI receive as President Obama signed several key provisions of the Honoring Our Nation’s Obligations to Returning Warriors Act (HONOR) into law.


U.S. Senator Kit Bond today marked a major victory in the effort to improve the care our active duty service members and veterans suffering from invisible injuries like PTSD and TBI receive as President Obama signed several key provisions of the Honoring Our Nation’s Obligations to Returning Warriors Act (HONOR) into law.

“Our support for the men and women who risk their lives to defend our nation should not end when they return home from a battlefield far away,” said Bond. “These brave Americans are owed a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid and we must ensure they have access to the support and treatment they need for injuries to both the mind and body.”

The key provisions of the bipartisan HONOR Act  sponsored by Senators Bond, Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) were signed into law by the President as part of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009.  While the Senate passed these provisions of the Bond-Boxer-Lieberman legislation in 2009, the measure stalled when the House of Representatives amended the underlying legislation.

The provisions signed into law today will give active duty service members access to Veterans Centers – the community-based counseling centers that our nation’s veterans access for mental health services. Allowing our active duty service members to utilize these local counseling services will ease the burden on practitioners and active troops caused by increasing demand and two wars overseas. 

The bill will also allow Veterans Centers to counsel former service members on their rights to present their medical records for review. Bond stressed that this change is critical as Pentagon reports indicate that some service members who suffered combat-related psychological injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) may have been improperly diagnosed with an existing personality disorder and subsequently and improperly discharged. Such a discharge can result in the loss of some benefits and care for wounded veterans. The provisions fought for by Senators Bond, Boxer and Lieberman seeks to end that practice.

While the Senator applauded this important step in improving the mental health care our service members and veterans receive, Bond cautioned that the remaining provisions of the HONOR Act must be enacted including:
Extension of survivor benefits to families of military personnel who commit suicide and have service-related, mental health conditions, including PTSD and TBI;

Establishment of a scholarship for service members who have served in a combat zone to seek professional degrees in behavioral sciences to provide assistance to active and former service members afflicted with psychological mental health conditions connected with traumatic events during combat;

Creation of a program to employ and train combat veterans as psychiatric technicians and nurses to provide counseling for active duty service members in immediate need of treatment;

Establishment of an annual joint review and report on the effectiveness of re-integration programs from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

Bond has worked since 2003 to improve the treatment these returning warriors receive for invisible injuries. As former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds our nation’s veterans programs and current ranking member of the Subcommittee that funds our nation’s housing programs, Bond has seen firsthand the devastating effects of failing to care for our returning veterans including devastatingly high rate of homelessness.

According to the RAND Corporation’s Invisible Wounds of War Study, an estimated 620,000 returning service members suffer from PTSD, TBIs or both.