Z-0838.2          _______________________________________________


                                 SENATE BILL 5865



State of Washington              52nd Legislature             1991 Regular Session


By Senators West, Gaspard, Oke, Skratek, Thorsness, L. Smith, Snyder, Bauer, Owen, McMullen, Talmadge, Conner, Vognild, Williams, Rasmussen, L. Kreidler, Stratton, von Reichbauer and Murray; by request of Department of Veterans Affairs.


Read first time February 26, 1991.  Referred to Committee on Governmental Operations.Establishing a counseling network for veterans and their families.

     AN ACT Relating to counseling veterans and their dependents; adding new sections to chapter 43.60A RCW; creating a new section; making appropriations; and declaring an emergency.




     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.      The legislature finds that over fifteen percent of the troops deployed in the Middle East war, operation dessert storm, are members of reserve and national guard units.  Of the reservists and national guard members currently on active duty, over three thousand seven hundred are from Washington state.  Further, the legislature finds that a significant percentage of individuals exposed to armed conflict during our nation's wars, and their families, suffer long-term psychological and social disorders that require professional assistance to permit them to return to normal, productive lives.  Additionally, the legislature finds that over the years the state's department of veterans affairs has developed a large body of knowledge and professional expertise in treating persons exposed to war stress and combat-related disorders, including post traumatic stress disorder also known as PTSD.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.      The department of veterans affairs, to the extent funds are made available, shall:  (1) Contract with professional counseling specialists to provide a range of direct treatment services to war-affected state veterans and to those national guard and reservists who served in the Middle East, and their family members; (2) provide treatment services to Washington state Vietnam veterans for post traumatic stress disorder, particularly for those veterans whose post traumatic stress disorder has intensified or initially emerged due to the war in the Middle East; (3) provide an educational program designed to train primary care professionals, such as mental health professionals, about the effects of war-related stress and trauma; (4) provide informational and counseling services for the purpose of establishing and fostering peer-support networks throughout the state for families of deployed members of the reserves and the Washington national guard; (5) provide for veterans' families, a referral network of community mental health providers who are skilled in treating deployment stress, combat stress, and post traumatic stress.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.      The department shall coordinate the programs contained in section 2 of this act with the services offered by the department of social and health services, local mental health organizations, and the federal department of veterans affairs to minimize duplication.  Programs and activities contained in section 2 (3) and (4) of this act, shall conclude thirty days after cessation of the war in the Middle East.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4.      The department of veterans affairs shall give priority in its counseling and instructional programs to treating state veterans located in rural areas of the state, especially those who are members of traditionally underserved minority groups, and women veterans.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.      The department of veterans affairs shall design its post traumatic stress disorder and combat stress programs and related activities to provide veterans with as much privacy and confidentiality as possible and yet consistent with sound program management.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6.      Sections 2 through 5 of this act are each added to chapter 43.60A RCW.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7.      The sum of:

     (1) Ninety thousand dollars, or as much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated for the biennium ending June 30, 1991; and

     (2) Three hundred thousand dollars or as much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated for the biennium ending June 30, 1993;

from the general fund to the department of veterans affairs for the purposes of this act.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 8.      This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and shall take effect immediately.