BOSTON — The state House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill designed to help the men and women who have served in the military who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and related issues.
If enacted, the measure would direct the University of Massachusetts Medical School to establish a continuing education program for counselors at state colleges and universities who work with veterans.
The program would teach the counselors about the symptoms of conditions like PTSD and educate them about treatment options. The curriculum would also include instruction on military culture and its influence on veterans' learning habits.
The bill, filed by Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford, awaits action by the Senate.
State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, House chairwoman of the Joint Legislature's Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, points out that those who fought or are fighting the war against terrorism make up a minute portion of the population, maybe 1%. Yet they have borne almost the entire burden of defeating the terrorists.
It's not like World War II, when just about every able-bodied man in his teens or 20s wore a uniform.
"Conditions like PTSD can be incredibly debilitating and isolating on campus. Veterans need to know that there are resources to help them," Campbell said.
"Training counselors at our institutions of higher learning to be familiar with the challenges that veterans face during the transition from active duty and combat to civilian life, and to assist them when the going gets tough, will greatly enhance the chances of a veteran completing their program of study and leading a productive civilian life," she added.
Arciero noted the transition from the military back to civilian life can be very challenging.
"It should be the goal of all of us to make this difficult time a little easier for our heroes and their families," he said.