The Army needs to improve its efforts to ensure soldiers in the National Guard and Reserve have access to quality-of-life services, particularly mental health care, Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey told lawmakers last week.
The Army has expanded the availability of behavioral health teams to unprecedented levels, he said, and now there are 58 such teams embedded down to the unit level. But for reserve personnel, that’s not enough, Daily said during a hearing of the House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee.
“We can do more,” Daily said, reported the Army News Service. “And where you can help us is getting that help out to the National Guard and Reserves. They are dispersed throughout the U.S.”
Dailey’s focus on mental health care followed “a tough year” for the Army, in which the number of suicides increased across the service.
The Army’s enlisted chief also highlighted the service’s success in helping soldiers gain licenses and certifications that will make it easier to begin their civilian careers. The service has helped more than 30,000 soldiers earn civilian credentials in dozens of specialties.
“This is something the Army has invested heavily in over the past several years,” Dailey told lawmakers. “We have made great strides. The Army has become 88 percent compliant with the VOW [Veterans Opportunity to Work] Act in the last three years, and we have had great help through Congress.”
Daily urged lawmakers to do more, however. Tuition assistance potentially could be used to help soldiers earn credentials, increasing the market value of the skills they learned in the Army.
“There is no reason we can’t invest in them,” he said. “We have proven that investing in them now is a great investment for us in the future.”