Obama seeks $7.2 billion for PTSD/TBI treatment

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Defense and Veterans Affairs departments would hike spending on mental health for service members.

President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget proposes $7.2 billion in funding to research and treat the invisible wounds of war: post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The Veterans Affairs Department said it plans to spend $6 billion in 2012 to enhance its ability to provide the best possible specialized care for those with PTSD, TBI and other mental health needs.

This is a $765 million, or 14.6 percent, increase over VA's entire proposed 2011 budget for mental health, which, in addition to PTSD and TBI treatment, covers substance abuse treatment, mental health care for the homeless and inpatient treatment.

VA officials said the 2012 PTSD/TBI budget also will support collaborative programs with the Defense Department, including outreach to veterans, as well as new but unspecified types of treatment. It promises to lay the groundwork for psychological treatment "for many years to come."

Defense proposed to spend $677 million to treat PTSD and TBI in 2012 and another $415 million for research, for a total of just under $1.2 billion. Defense had requested $1.1 billion for PTSD/TBI treatment and research in its 2011 budget.

Both Defense and VA are awaiting congressional approval of their 2011 budgets by early March, when a continuing resolution that funds the entire federal government expires.

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