Last week, the Congress approved the $693 billion 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA sets spending levels for all the programs in the Department of Defense, the largest area of the U.S. budget after Social Security. The President is expected to sign the bill shortly.
In addition to authorizing new equipment purchases, servicemembers' salaries, and a controversial hate crimes provision, the bill requires a comprehensive evaluation of the armed forces' substance use disorder treatment system.
U.S. Military Academy graduates celebrate the end of college (but we're sure they're happy
about the new substance use disorder provisions of the 2010 NDAA as well).
Photo used with a
Creative Commons license from the U.S. Army.
The legislation is drawn from Missouri Sen.
Claire McCaskill's SUPPORT for Substance Use Disorders Act. (Parochially, one of the biggest differences between the original bill and the one that was included in the NDAA is that the
original bill referenced NAADAC by name!) Sen. McCaskill has been a strong supporter of addiction treatment since coming to Congress in 2006, and she used her position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to draw attention to the needs of the military's addiction services system.
As passed, the bill requires the Dept. of Defense to conduct a comprehensive review of:
- The programs and activities of the Dept. of Defense for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatmetn of SUDs in members of the Armed Forces.
- The policies relating to the disposition of substance abuse offenders in the Armed Forces, including disciplinary action and administrative separation.
Of particular interest to addiction professionals is the order to assess "the adequacy and appropriateness of current credentials and other requirements for healthcare professionals treating members of the Armed Forces" and "the advisable ratio of physician and nonphysician care providers for substance use disorders." The bill also requires an assessment of the TRICARE program's coverage, the adequacy of care for families, and the care available for Reservists. (You can read the whole section of the bill by