The Care and Readiness Enhancement (CARE) for Reservists Act of 2019 (HR 2629, 116th Congress) would expand mental health services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to those serving in the reserve component of the military. Specifically, the Act would permit the VA to offer a comprehensive, individual exam to those members of the reserve components of the military with either a behavioral health condition or psychological trauma. The Act further specifies that members of the reserve components would be included in certain VA mental health programs, such as the suicide prevention program. Finally, the Act would require the VA to public and submit a report assessing the increased number of individuals receiving counseling or other mental healthcare, how the VA has accommodated these individuals in terms of staffing, training, organization, and resources, and any challenges that arose from the expansion of these services.
According to a 2015 meta-analysis, members of reserve components of the Armed Forces are particularly susceptible to certain mental health burdens, including a heightened rate of alcohol use disorders compared to those in the active components. The study found that rates for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were equivalent among those in reserve and active components.