Military Ban, Jobless Benefits Eyed

Michael G. MullenNASW thanked Adm. Michael G. Mullen for his congressional testimony about the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians. Photo: Nancy A. Youssef/MCT

NASW participated in advocacy efforts in February regarding jobless benefits, the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and a call for comments for the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

The association sent a letter to lawmakers Feb. 18, urging them to act immediately to continue the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’s aid to the unemployed as a standalone measure through 2010.

The letter noted that subsequent expansions of the program, including the expansion of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) from 14 weeks to 20, have gone a long way to respond to the severity of the crisis of long-term unemployment, with more than 40 percent of all unemployed workers still struggling to find work after six months and more than six unemployed workers for every available job.

“While the jobless aid provided by the Recovery Act has been significant, the decision of Congress to adopt limited extensions of the program (has) caused severe hardship, both for unemployed workers and the state systems that are struggling with severely outdated equipment and insufficient staff and resources to process over 10 million unemployment checks each week,” the letter stated.

It also pointed out that NASW believes the limited extensions of jobless aid can no longer be sustained.

“These short-term extensions simply do not measure up to the realities facing unemployed workers in today’s economy or to the serious challenges facing the state agencies that process the benefits,” the letter stated. It concluded by asking Congress to continue the Recovery Act program through the end of the year.

On March 2, lawmakers approved a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits and an extension of Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act health insurance subsidies. The legislation extended the federal benefits that expired on Feb. 28 for one month.

In relation to the latest congressional testimony involving the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, NASW sent a thank you letter to Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who testified for a repeal of the policy.

The letter commended Mullen for his forward-thinking comments before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 2.

NASW has sought elimination of DADT since its inception, the letter stated.

“The military, as you have noted, has lost many vital people who were either forced out by DADT or who chose not to join the armed forces because of possible issues that could arise under DADT,” the letter stated. “No one should have to choose between serving their country and pursuing a fulfilling relationship.”

The letter thanked Mullen for his testimony that “will help eliminate an unjust policy.”

NASW announced to members in February that the proposed fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders is available for public review and comments from Feb. 10 to April 20.

Clinical social workers use the DSM when diagnosing and treating children and adults who may have a mental illness, the alert stated. The document is used in many different clinical settings, including private practice, inpatient, partial hospitalization and outpatient treatment.

“It is a great opportunity for members to provide direct input into a work tool used frequently in a mental health environment,” the alert noted.