Sen. Kaine co-introduces legislation to support mental health of military mothers


WASHINGTON (WAVY) — Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) co-introduced legislation to ensure military mothers have access to adequate support and resources to combat postpartum depression.

Kaine said when he talks to military mothers, he repeatedly hears about the challenges they face when it comes to mental health. That’s why he wants the Government Accountability Office to study mental health conditions among military moms.

For Kimberly Robertson, she experienced isolation as a U.S. Air Force spouse. Early on, she and her husband moved across the country while she was pregnant.

“Unfortunately, I ended up having postpartum depression, but I didn’t know it,” said Robertson. “I actually didn’t know for about a year after I had given birth that I was faced with depression and anxiety.”

Her experiences are why she supports the Military Moms’ Mental Health Assessment Act.

“I believe that this bill is so greatly focused on prenatal and postpartum depression and mental health, but I’d love to see more,” said Robertson. “The more we can get a spotlight on it, the more research we can have, the better chances our chances of having a successful mission as a military family.”

Kaine introduced the legislation with Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal earlier this month.

“We want to do rigorous assessments of the services that people need so that we can start to train and hire and recruit more mental professionals to deal with their needs,” said Kaine. “So it’s comprehensive: assessment and then service provision all driven by listening to what military spouses and military moms are saying about the challenges they face.”

One group that helped shape the legislation is the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN).

“We are consistently focused on bringing the experience of military families to those in decision making roles,” Shannon Razsadin, executive director of MFAN, said.

Razsadin is hopeful this legislation will help support military moms.

“It’s a good opportunity to figure out what we can do — what support systems we can put in place, to really make life as easy as possible for military families and help them through a pregnancy or those postpartum months — that really finds them assurances and continuity of care so they are connected as early as possible to the support they need,” said Razsadin.

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed this legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act late last week.

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