DENVER - Two Colorado congressmen formed a task force to propose reforms in treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The task force is comprised of 12 people including medical experts, psychologists and Colorado veterans. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) hosted the first meeting Monday at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Coffman says PTSD has become the signature injury of the war. Thousands of servicemembers returning home seek care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Coffman chairs a U.S. House subcommittee tasked with VA oversight.
"There are delays in care," Coffman said. "There is a real backlog, and I think that's reflected in a higher suicide rate for veterans."
"The American people have an unbreakable covenant with our veterans, and we must provide them with the very best health care and behavioral health services out of gratitude for their sacrifices," Udall, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.
The task force plans to hear directly from veterans living with PTSD at a future meeting. The group will investigate the issues those veterans face, what services are available to them, and what improvements need to be made.
"I think if we can have more effective treatment on the front end, it will pay for less disability cost on the back end," Coffman, when asked about finding funding to reform PTSD care, said.
The congressmen are asking the taskforce to provide recommendations by the end of the year.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)