Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior Member of the House Homeland Security committee, released the following statement regarding her remarks today at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Legion in Houston, TX:
"Today I spoke to the American Legion as they held their 95th National Convention here in the 18th Congressional District. Having traveled to many of the war zones across the world it was an honor to bring them greetings from the 18th Congressional District. The American Legion is the nation's largest wartime veterans' service organization committed to honor, national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans is important to me as a member of Congress because you are a important voice fir veterans in the Greater Houston Area.
"I count as one of my constituents the Dr. Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center, and I am proud to say to my colleagues in Washington DC that Harris County is home to 187,717 veterans and our great state serves the needs of 1,618,413 veterans. Our veterans never fail to respond to the call to serve their country. That is why we cannot and must not fail to serve them. And that begins by eliminating the back log. Veterans should not have to wait months to receive the care they need.
"We must continue our partnership to end veteran homelessness and increase benefits for veterans to assure they have access to healthcare, education and good paying jobs. Perhaps, the most pressing need is to increase veteran mental health awareness and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which I talked also talked about. PTSD is a serious mental heath disorder that affects an estimated 7.8 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. About 3.6 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year. I recently had an amendment added to the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill that will increase the Defense Health Program's Research and Development account for $5oo,ooo for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
"Yet, as American soldiers, they are trained to suppress the agonizing grief associated with those horrible experiences and are expected to continue on with the mission.
"My thanks to the American Legion for your leadership generation after generation as the ranks of Veterans transition from new veterans returning home from war for the first time, those who have laid down their uniform for another career and as well as those who are well into their retirement years. Caring for our veterans should not be a partisan issue, but an American one. I will redouble my efforts to assure that as our men an woman fight under one flag so should we as members of Congress do the same when we work on their behalf."