MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer HELENA
The Montana National Guard says its new plan for helping troops deal with post-traumatic stress disorder exceeds federal requirements. The Guard delivered its plan to Gov. Brian Schweitzer Tuesday, a little more than a year after the governor asked for better ways to deal with the problem in the wake of a returning soldier's suicide. National Guard Adjutant Gen. Randy Mosley said the guard called in outside mental health experts to recommend broad changes. He said the Guard has finished implementing those recommendations, which he said go far beyond what is required by the Department of Defense. "We will do what it takes to make our soldiers whole," Schweitzer said Tuesday in receiving the plan from the Guard. Schweitzer said the Guard needs to help prepare soldiers for civilian life just as it prepares them for combat. The plan calls for increased medical help following deployment, more mental health resources, improved understanding of the Stresses, easier access to help for those who need it, help for family members who also feel the stress of war, and other initiatives. The committee to deal with PTSD was created shortly after the March 2007 suicide of Chris Dana, an Iraq war veteran from Helena. Dana's family said he had become depressed and withdrawn, and the military failed to help him. Mosley and the governor said the military has come a long way in recognizing the delayed effects wartime stress can create. Mosley said there is nothing that can make the root problem disappear, although they can do a much better job of treating it. "PTSD is something that has inflicted our military since the dawn of history," Mosley said. "It is not going to go away just because we have a program."