Hoeven, Heitkamp, Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce PTSD Awareness Month Resolution
WASHINGTON – In a continued effort to raise awareness about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Senator John Hoeven today cosponsored a resolution in the United States Senate sponsored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp to designate the month of June as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Month. Senator Hoeven cosponsored a resolution marking June 27 as PTSD Awareness Day with Senator Kent Conrad for the last two years. The resolution introduced today would designate the entire month of June as PTSD Awareness Month.
“In passing the National PTSD Awareness Month resolution this year, the Senate will be showing that we stand committed to finding the best ways to treat PTSD and assist the servicemembers, veterans and family members who are suffering from its impact. We hope that this public month of recognition will also signal to our servicemembers and veterans that our country, including Congress and our military leaders, recognizes the toll this injury takes and our continued commitment to finding the best ways to prevent and treat it,” Senator Hoeven said.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that since October of 2001, more than 286,000 of the approximately 900,000 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Day who have used Veterans Affairs health care have been coded for PTSD, and an untold number of cases of PTSD remain unreported, undiagnosed and untreated due to lack of awareness about the illness and persistent stigma associated with mental health issues.
The Senate first established PTSD Awareness Day in 2010 following former Senator Conrad’s efforts to designate a day of awareness as tribute to North Dakota Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joe Biel who suffered from PTSD and took his life in April 2007 after returning to North Dakota following his second tour of duty in Iraq. For the past three years, Staff Sgt. Biel’s birthday, June 27, was chosen to mark PTSD Awareness Day and honor his memory.
Individuals interested in learning more about PTSD can visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD at http://www.ptsd.va.gov/.
The text of the resolution follows.
``National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month''
Whereas the brave men and women Armed Forces of the United States, who proudly serve the United States, risk their lives to protect the freedom of the United States, and deserve the investment of every possible resource to ensure their lasting physical, mental, and emotional well-being;
Whereas more than 2,000,000 service members have deployed overseas as part of overseas contingency operations since the events of September 11, 2001;
Whereas the military has sustained an operational tempo for a period of time unprecedented in the history of the United States, with many service members deploying multiple times to combat zones, placing them at high risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (referred to in this preamble as “PTSD”);
Whereas the Department of Veterans Affairs reports that—
(1) since October of 2001, more than 286,000 of the approximately 900,000 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn who have used Department of Veterans Affairs health care have been coded for PTSD;
(2) in fiscal year 2011, more than 475,000 of the nearly 6,000,000 veterans from all wars who sought care at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center received treatment for PTSD; and
(3) of veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn who are using Veterans Affairs health care, more than 486,000—or 54 percent—have received a diagnosis for at least 1 mental health disorder;
Whereas many cases of PTSD remain unreported, undiagnosed, and untreated due to a lack of awareness about PTSD and the persistent stigma associated with mental health conditions;
Whereas PTSD significantly increases the risk of depression, suicide, and drug- and alcohol-related disorders and deaths, especially if left untreated;
Whereas symptoms of PTSD or other mental health disorders create unique challenges for veterans seeking employment;
Whereas the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have made significant advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and the symptoms of PTSD, but many challenges remain; and
Whereas the establishment of a National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month will raise public awareness about issues related to PTSD, reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, and help ensure that those suffering from the invisible wounds of war receive proper treatment: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) designates June 2013, as “National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month”;
(2) supports the efforts of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to educate service members, veterans, the families of service members and veterans, and the public about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder; and
(3) respectfully requests that the Secretary of the Senate transmit a copy of this resolution to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense.
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