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Army Proposes Suspension of Counseling Notification Policy

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In an effort to encourage soldiers to seek addiction treatment, military officials have proposed to eliminate the requirement that commanding officers be notified if a soldier seeks voluntary counseling, USA Today reported Jan. 11.

The hope is that dropping the requirement will “reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental-health care and to encourage more soldiers to seek treatment,” said Army Secretary Pete Geren, and get rid of a policy that “seem[s] oriented to disciplinary concerns,” according to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

The Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) has seen an increase in the number of military personnel in need of alcohol treatment, with the overall number of those seeking treatment having increased by 25 percent in the last five years, USA Today reported Nov. 11, 2008.

The Army is ill-equipped to handle the increase in demand, with only three-quarters of drug-counseling positions currently filled, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Vaughan. The Army has no residential treatment facilities and only 150 inpatient treatment beds.

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