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Senator Mark Udall, Rep. Mike Coffman Convene Bipartisan Joint Taskforce on Veterans Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Press Release

Location: Unknown

Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) will host the inaugural meeting of a Joint Taskforce on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on Monday, April 22, 2013, at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Research II Building, 12700 E. 19th Ave. in Aurora. The task force, composed of 12 medical experts, psychologists and Colorado veterans, will explore the issues veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder face, the programs and assistance currently available to them, and areas where Udall and Coffman can help improve services for Colorado veterans.

"The American people have an unbreakable covenant with our veterans, and we must provide them with the very best health care and behavioral health services out of gratitude for their sacrifices. We often rise to that commitment, but we can and must do better to help our warriors who are living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," said Udall, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I have joined with Rep. Coffman to convene this important, bipartisan taskforce. I look forward to exploring how we can better serve those who have given so much in the defense of freedom."

"We owe it to those who made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our freedom to provide for their care," said Coffman, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "I am grateful for the work Sen. Udall will be doing with me on this, and I think we have put together a great team that will help find solutions."

The April 22 meeting is the first of two scheduled meetings for the taskforce. The second meeting will focus on collecting public comment on the challenges veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder face. The taskforce will issue its recommendations in the fall on what reforms Udall and Coffman should pursue in Congress to better help veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The task force members are:

Task Force Chairman Bill Holen, an Arapahoe County commissioner, Vietnam veteran and former member of the Colorado Air National Guard;

Izzy Abbass, a U.S. Army veteran and program director for the Boots to Suits Program at the University of Colorado Denver;

Dr. Charles Allen, a psychologist and U.S. Marine Corps veteran;

Dr. Michael Allen, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver's Psychiatry Department and the School of Medicine;

Jennifer Anderson, program manager for TBI Services at Rocky Mountain Humans Services;

Charles "Chip" Benight, a professor of psychology and director of the UCCS Trauma, Health and Hazards Center;

Wayne Brady, a U.S. Army veteran and recipient of the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf;

Christina Cook, a former U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Advocate for the state of Colorado;

Jason Crow, an attorney and former Army captain who served with a Special Operations task force in Afghanistan and as an infantry platoon leader in Iraq;

Sarah Godlewski, who worked with the Defense Department for more than a decade, including serving as lead consultant for Military Health Strategy and the Air Force Medical Service Strategy;

Dr. Levester Lyons, a retired VA physician with 42 years of experience dealing with veterans issues and treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; and,

Dr. Richard Rewey, a reserve psychiatrist in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, including serving as Chief of the Psychiatric Service at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center.

The taskforce's mission statement is: "The Taskforce will utilize the experience and knowledge available among Colorado veterans, citizens, institutions, and stakeholders to develop a plan that will demonstrate how our nation can better take care of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by improving current treatment options and guiding them on a return to improved health and employment."

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