Recent elections have focused us, once again, on the “here and now.” And rightly so. With the elections behind us, we have a shared sense of relief. But for combat veterans, the “here and now” is also often defined by “there and then.” They carry courage into battle, serve with honor and come home – often finding they need new courage to confront a new foe. Veterans who confront post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and related symptoms also deserve relief – and this Veterans’ Day, Congress is poised to give it to them.
Truth can be compelling when it meets you up close and personal. For many Veterans, there is new truth afoot, and it is compelling – and hopeful. In recent years, a specialized, little-publicized brain treatment program for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) known as Magnetic EEG/EKG-guided Resonance Therapy (MeRT technology) has emerged. The unique treatment, much studied and now widely corroborated, is powerful. It changes lives.
MeRT technology is an algorithm-driven version of magnetic resonance therapy and the data is arresting and encouraging. Having talked with veterans and seen this treatment work, my view is that we are approaching a real answer. Accordingly, in the “lame duck,” Congressional action is needed – and now.
Just as the election was an inflection point, Congress is in a position to change lives in America for the better. If Congress can move beyond words and intentions, beyond political jousting, America’s veterans will be forever grateful – and lives will be saved by the thousands.
Please listen to one compelling fact. The chance to give life back to those on the edge, who wrestle daily with PTSD and related life-stresses and opiate addiction, is at our finger-tips. The Washington Post and veteran publications have aptly described it, but time is now for action. I cannot say this with more conviction: We must act to save the precious lives, and every one at risk is precious. We lose more than 20 young men and women daily to PTSD, and we can stop this in a single congressional vote.
The key bill is pending that would help to change everything. Through pilot programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), passage of H.R. 5600, the No Hero Left Untreated Act, will help veterans turn a critical corner. It will help to restore their mental health, saving countless lives and those touched by those lives. Without this act, our veterans will continue to languish without access to this help.
So, in a first post-election act of coming together, unify around what matters. Politics aside, Congress must act now to pass H.R. 5600 and a Senate companion bill, immediately. Placing this bill in the year-end Omnibus Act, Congress will begin immediately saving the veterans most at risk. There can no longer be any excuse.
MeRT technology offers a personalized, EEG/EKG-guided, life-saving treatment for our nation’s veterans who are suffering from PTSD, TBI, chronic pain, military sexual trauma, and opiate addiction. This modality is non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical and was pioneered by an elite group of neuroscientists at the Brain Treatment Center (BTC), which is headquartered in California. To date, MeRT technology has treated over 500 veterans – all of whom received MeRT underwritten by private donations.
Using personalized protocols to treat each unique patient, the approach has achieved stunning outcomes in a field where success has historically been hard to achieve. Both open-label trials and placebo-controlled, double-blind studies validate what is occurring.
As first reported by the Washington Post, this is an inflection point – a show stopper, a real chance for meaningful change. Tested through double-blind studies, 98 percent of MeRT-treated veterans experienced at least a 10-point improvement in their PTSD Check List-Military (PCL-M) score, and saw significant reduction in symptom severity, after only 4 weeks of treatment. These results have been mirrored in additional open label trials as well. Nothing else I know of has come close to this success rate.
All this brings me to today. In June, Congressman Steve Knight (CA-25) introduced H.R. 5600, the No Hero Left Untreated Act, which would establish MeRT technology pilot programs in up to five VA facilities. His voice has been heard. The bill presently boasts 33 bipartisan cosponsors, including Congressmen Ryan Zinke, Kevin McCarthy, Seth Moulton, Steve Russell, and Chris Gibson.
Notably, in late September, H.R. 5600 was reported favorably to the House by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, as amended. There are currently 18 different organizations supporting this piece of legislation including the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, and USSOCOM. Truth cannot be hidden – nor should it be.
My earnest plea, as a veteran and one who cares deeply about the mental and physical health of our returning veterans, is simple: Congress, pass this bill – in the Omnibus or in some other way – but pass it now, and save the lives of those who did not hesitate to step up, when our Nation’s health, safety and freedom was at stake.
We are duty bound to help. Our military serves us well, answering the call to duty every time we ask them. Now, it is time that we act and serve them. Americans – veterans and their families – need you now. Please put a priority on what matters most: saving our veterans.
Rebecca Halstead is a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and Iraq War Veteran. She is the first female graduate of West Point to attain general officer rank and served as the senior Commanding General for logistics in Iraq, becoming the first female in U.S. history to command in combat at the strategic level. In this capacity she was responsible for leading over 200 multi‐disciplined units (20,000 military and 5,000 civilians) located across 55 different bases, providing supply, maintenance, transportation and distribution support to over 250,000 personnel serving across Iraq.