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The Boston Globe (3/19, Wen) reports, “Despite the challenges of creating intimate therapeutic space in a bustling school building, school officials in Boston and other cities are increasingly importing private clinicians to deliver much-needed mental health services to behaviorally troubled students.” The “arrangement helps districts avoid the expense of hiring more counseling staff while reducing the gap nationwide between the number of children who need psychological or emotional help and those who actually get it.”
— “Schools turn to private therapists for troubled students,”Patricia Wen, Boston.com, March 19, 2012.
In continuing coverage, ABC World News (3/18, story 2, 1:55, Muir) broadcast that on Sunday night, attorneys for 38-year-old Sergeant Robert Bales, the US soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians, “are arriving at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas and plan to meet with him face to face for the very first time.” ABC, which noted that Bales could be facing a lifetime prison sentence or the death penalty, showed military law expert Charles Gittens saying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) “could be a mitigating circumstance that could cause a jury to determine that the death penalty is not appropriate” for Bales. ABC added, “Getting an acquittal by reason of insanity and blaming it on post-traumatic stress is almost unheard of in military court. But Bales has a creative, high-profile legal team and this will not likely be a typical case.”
Many Americans Seem WilIing To Believe There Is Explanation Behind Killings. An AP (3/19, Breed) story run by at least 250 publications reports that many Americans “seem willing to believe that a 10-year US military veteran, worn down by four tours of combat and perhaps suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, simply snapped. That somehow there must be, if not an excuse, at least an explanation” for why Bales may have killed 16 Afghan civilians.
Bloomberg News (3/19, Robison, Nash, Vekshin) notes that a US official “has said family stress and alcohol may have combined to prompt the shootings” that Bales is alleged to have committed. Bloomberg adds, “Friends, neighbors and experts in post-traumatic stress disorder contend that something else must have driven a man they know as unfailingly polite to such horrific acts.” And Harry Croft, MD, “a former Army doctor who has reviewed about 7,000 cases” of PTSD, said, “To kill innocent women and children indicates to me that something happened during these killings that was simply more than the product of PTSD.”
Rieckhoff Hopes Killings Will Lead To More Help For Vets Returning From War. During an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press (3/18, 10:58 a.m. ET) Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Of America Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff said mental health problems and unemployment are two issues facing vets returning from war. He added, “This country has been disconnected at an unprecedented level.” And, Rieckhoff said, if the recent killing of 16 Afghan civilians forces the American public “to really take note of that and get involved and do something about it, well then that’s a good thing. Let’s have that conversation.”
— “Bales Faced Losing Houses as He Fought 6,700 Miles Away,”Peter Robison, Bloomberg, March 19, 2012.
The Washington Post (3/16, Moyer) reports that Washington, DC, “JM-4 in DC Superior Court” is the “home of a 14-month-old juvenile court intended to help minors with mental health problems avoid the harsh consequences and limited rehabilitation opportunities in the juvenile system. Known formally as the juvenile mental health diversion court,” the new court appears to be reducing the recidivism rate of certain crimes among minors. “A report from the DC Department of Mental Health showed that 56 juveniles enrolled in diversion in 2011. Eight, or 14 percent, were rearrested, compared with 40 percent in regular court. Nationally, the re-arrest rate is 60 percent, according to the report.”
— “At D.C. Superior Court program, a focus on helping minors with mental health problems,”Justin Moyer, The Washington Post, March 15, 2012.
According to the Army News Service (3/16, Lopez), the US Army “will offer 285 service members a chance to have their mental health diagnoses re-evaluated,” after having their diagnoses “changed…to something other” than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The service members were part of a group of approximately 1,600 service members who “received medical care at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.” The Army News Service adds, “‘What we’re looking at is wanting to make sure that our service members received the best care possible,’ said Surgeon General of the Army Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, before the House Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee, March 8.”
— “Army OKs second look at 1,600 mental health cases, “C. Todd Lopez , .Ft Leaven Worth Lamp., March 15, 2012.
According to the Washington Post (3/16, Jaffe), the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has “reversed its decision to deny a life insurance claim to a Marine who committed suicide in 2010 following a long and largely hidden struggle” with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Marine Maj. Jeff Hackett “was the subject of a front-page story last month in The Washington Post that chronicled his troubles and the VA’s decision to deny the $400,000 claim to his widow and four sons.” In an interview, Hackett’s widow “said she was overwhelmed by the news, and grateful that the VA was able to ‘actually look at a problem and try to fix it.'”
— “Widow of Marine who committed suicide to receive life insurance claim, “Greg Jaffe , The Washington Post, March 15, 2012.
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