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Military Connection: House Votes Against Dreamers in the Military

MAVNI

By Debbie Gregory.

The amendment to allow more illegal immigrants to enlist in the U.S. military has been shot down.

Between January 1st and May 1st, 2015, there were 81 illegal immigrants who enlisted in the U.S. military. These individuals were permitted to join the armed forces through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. The MAVNI program was created to make it easier for legal immigrants with medical training or critical language skills deemed vital to the national security to enlist. But there were recent proposals made in the House of Representatives to allow illegal immigrants to enlist through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The DACA program was implemented in 2012. The program grants young, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children (commonly referred to as “dreamers”), the ability to be lawfully present in the U.S. while they work towards legal citizenship.

Congressman Ruben Gallego from Arizona, who is also a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the son of immigrant parents, recently proposed a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the 2016 defense policy bill, that would encourage the Pentagon to expand the recruitment of dreamers through the DACA program.

Gallego’s provision to the NDAA sparked a heated debate and a close vote in the House. There are those who feel that at a time when the armed forces are slimming down their ranks, making enlistment requirements stricter across the board, a provision such as Gallego’s would provide an unfair advantage to the immigrant children who entered the country illegally, over those who were born here or came here legally. Others believe that the U.S. military deserves to have its choice of the best, brightest, strongest and most resilient service members, no matter where they were born or what their immigration status is. With that said, on May 14th, the House voted 221-202 against Gallego’s provision.

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Military Connection: House Votes Against Dreamers in the Military: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Bill to Improve Mental Health in the US Military

Mental Health

By Debbie Gregory.

In April, 2014, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers (MEPS) Act, S. 2231, into the U.S. Senate. The bill was read twice and then referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services. From there, the bill never gained traction and has remained buried within the committee.

On March 4, 2015 Sen. Portman teamed up with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to introduce the MEPS Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill that aims to improve mental health services for service members from the start of their enlistment.

The MEPS Act would call for the secretaries for each branch of the military to develop and maintain programs that would provide potential recruits with a mental health assessment before they join through enlistment or commission. The result of this initial assessment is to be used solely as a baseline for any mental health treatment that arises as result of their service. It is not intended to be used to disqualify recruits from joining, being promoting, or approved for military assignments.

If approved, the bill would also require the DOD to provide another mental health screening to each service member within 180 days of their separation from active duty. The DOD would be required to report the results to Congress. The DOD would also be required to give each service member an electronic copy of their entire treatment record at the time of separation.

Between 2000 and 2014, more than 300,000 service members, from every branch, were diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. As many as twenty percent of Veterans from this same time period have been estimated to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“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,” Sen. 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.”

The MEPS Act is reportedly being endorsed by many Veterans organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Reserve Officers Association, National Military Family Association, Association of the U.S. Navy, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Bill to Improve Mental Health in the US Military: By Debbie Gregory