Pentagon changes rule for security clearances

Move designed to encourage soldiers to use often-avoid counseling services

Revising the security clearance procedure is the latest in a string of efforts aimed at changing military attitudes on mental health:

_ The Army last year held special sessions to teach 800,000 troops how to recognize concussions and mental problems in themselves and their buddies.

_ The Army and Navy have put mental health professionals into primary care centers - rather than separate locations - so troops can go for appointments discreetly.

Advocates of better mental health care for troops said the new policy could be a small but important step.

"This needs to be followed by a mental health campaign - not just for service members but for their families as well," said Paul Riechoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "But I really do think it's a significant evolution."

A survey released Wednesday by the American Psychiatric Association found that about three in five service members think seeking help for mental health concerns would have at least some impact on their careers.

"The military has made strides in raising awareness of mental health, but it's going to take a tremendous commitment to overcome attitudes that are ingrained in the military culture," association president Dr. Carolyn B. Robinowitz said.


Associated Press writer Lolita Baldor contributed to this report from Fort Bliss, Texas.

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