WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama has signed legislation into law that requires an annual mental health assessment for all service members.
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) drafted the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act; named after an Indiana National Guard member who took his own life while on a 15-day leave from Afghanistan.
“Starting next year, every servicemember—Active Duty, Guard, or Reserve—will receive an annual mental health assessment. Also, we will evaluate which prevention or intervention programs are working in hopes of future expansion,” Sen. Donnelly remarked.
Jacob Sextons father, Jeff, said, “The day they passed the bill would have been Jacob’s 27th birthday. And I can’t think of a better birthday present for him or a better Christmas present for all the men and women and their families in the military that suffer every day from PTSD, head injuries, any kind of mental illness. And hopefully this may change the stigma and bring out the help that our men and women need.”
The Sexton Act will:
- Require annual mental health assessments for all service members—Active, Reserve, and Guard.
- Maintain strong privacy protections for service members.
- Require a Pentagon report to evaluate existing military mental health practices and provide recommendations for improvement.