Senators want to strengthen military mental health screenings
 
The Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers, or MEPS, Act would require mental health screenings for incoming recruits. 
 
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Portman said despite advances made in recent years to improve mental health care in the military, more needs to be done. 
 
"Too many of our men and women in uniform still suffer from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and behavioral health conditions,” Portman said in a statement. “While we’ve made great strides in the way we treat these invisible wounds of war, the steady persistence of this problem demonstrates the need for more action."
 
More than 300,000 troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury from 2000 through late 2014, according to the Defense Department's Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that between 11 to 20 percent of post-9/11 veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. 
 
Heinrich suggested screening military recruits would help provide a "baseline" for a service member's future mental health assessments. 
 
"Part of fulfilling America's promise to our servicemembers and veterans is to provide them with the best health care and benefits our country has to offer," he said in a statement. "Establishing a baseline is critical for understanding and treating the mental impacts of being deployed." 
 
The legislation would also require the Defense Department to report on the effectiveness of the mental health component of a health assessment troops receive when leaving active duty.  
 
Portman introduced similar legislation last year with then-Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).