The need for programs to treat combat stress in returning soldiers is soaring, but The Pathway Home has seen its clientele diminish from 42 at a time during the first three years to something closer to 15 because of a decline in funding.

<CW-30>The program <NO1><NO>was launched in 2007 with a three-year, $5.6million grant and opened its doors in January 2008. To help it stay open, it <NO1><NO>was awarded a $1.3 million state grant in 2010, but received only half of the money from the cash-strapped state and has struggled since to fund the program.</CW>

The center currently is operating <NO1><NO>under a budget of $90a day per client, although the costs normally run<NO1><NO> closer to $106, said Executive Director Fred Gusman.

The costs are far lower than <NO1><NO>residential treatment programs elsewhere, <NO1><NO>he said. <NO1><NO><CW-30>"You can't get that anywhere."</CW>

But in recent months, Gusman and program manager Kathy Loughry have worked without pay to ensure they can retain their full panel of therapists. They are hopeful of <NO1>several<NO>new grants coming in and hope to expand <NO1>again<NO>next year.

They are also seeking formal accreditation, which would make the program eligible for health insurance reimbursements available for treating active duty personnel, who account for about one in five of The Pathway Home's clients.

A bipartisan bill to expand treatment options for people with PTSD and traumatic brain injury, co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St.Helena, was adopted by the House last summer. The five-year pilot program would provide reimbursements for vets receiving treatment from providers that, like The Pathway Home, operate outside the VA and Department of Defense.

<CW-28>But it awaits passage in the Senate, and a version approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee in June reportedly omits veterans.

Thompson has pledged to reintroduce the bill until it's made law. He cited The Pathway Home as the kind of innovative treatment that should be available to U.S. veterans.

"This is what I know," Thompson said. "I know that this is working really well for some people. ... And I don't think we should deny treatment to somebody because the rules don't allow funding to follow these people to the treatment centers that they need."

— Mary Callahan