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The Pentagon is asking Congress not to support a program that would provide mental health services to National Guard and Reserve troops, citing limited resources.

USA Today reports that if passed, the program would have mental health workers brought in with Guard and Reserve units when they report for their monthly training weekends. In the Defense Department’s position paper, however, the Pentagon claims that this is something that is not only unnecessary, but also tough to do when “mental health providers are in short supply nationally.”

But advocates for the program point to data released by the Army showing 146 completed suicides among non-active duty Guard and Reserve soldiers in 2010, which was a record level. So far this year through the month of October, the Army reports that there have been 98 completed suicides among non-active duty Guard and Reserve soldiers.

“I was really surprised that the Department of Defense decided to oppose this,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “It’s just a no-brainer to make sure that this is out there for every Guard and Reserve member wherever they live.”

Currently, the House version of the Pentagon funding bill has the program included, but the Pentagon’s opposition could have it taken out.

Source: USA Today

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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