Providing needed resources

Monday, March 26, 2007

National Guard members and their families, stretched thin by overseas deployments, should get more help from the government.

We support the efforts of two legislators from Iowa, Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Bruce Braley, both Democrats, who introduced the "Coming Together for Guard and Reserve Families Act."

It comes in the wake of revelations of poor care for returning veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Harkin has said that families of Guard and Reserve members are especially vulnerable because of their isolation, distance from military bases, and lack of access to services extended to active-duty forces. Their children are at risk for depression and poor grades, and marriages can suffer problems because of long absences, he said.

"With many Guard and Reserve members on their third or fourth deployment, and with some deployments being stretched out to 16 months, the stresses on families are acute," he said.

Under the legislation, Harkin said a federal transition program run by the Department of Veterans Affairs for disabled veterans would be extended to family members so they can obtain counseling and mental health services.

Under the proposal, teachers and others working with children would get more help to understand the special needs of kids with parents in a war zone, and spouses would also get access to family-to-family mentoring program so they can connect with each other.

This kind of support for the men and women who serve our country in the military and their families, is needed.