CONWAY — Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday called for improved mental health services for veterans, a day ahead of a Memorial Day.
In remarks prepared for delivery on Sunday, the Illinois Democrat proposed changes to recruitment and deployment of military mental health providers. He called for the Pentagon to recruit more professionals to help identify and treat problems. And he seeks mandatory mental health screenings of all troops.
"I believe strongly that there is a sacred trust between this country and those who serve it," Obama said in prepared remarks provided to The Associated Press. "That trust begins the moment a service member signs on and lasts the duration of his or her life.
"We're falling far short in addressing the mental health care needs of these heroes, and that's inexcusable."
Obama, spending two days in the first-in-the-nation primary state with his family, has made his opposition to the war in Iraq a central tenet of his campaign.
According to Obama's plan, the military would require face-to-face mental health screenings for all service members. By making it mandatory, Obama said the military could reduce the stigma associated with mental health screening and treatment.
The plan also would institute early mental health screenings so future psychological injuries could be more easily diagnosed and treated.