U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp announced today that the Senate has unanimously passed her resolution to raise awareness about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). June 2013 is now designated National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. Heitkamp's resolution calls on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to further educate servicemembers, veterans, the families of servicemembers and veterans, and the public about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I am very pleased that the Senate has adopted my resolution to raise awareness about PTSD. I am confident that designating June 2013 National PTSD Awareness Month will have an important impact," said Heitkamp. "PTSD is one of the greatest challenges facing our brave men and women while they are serving and after they return home from duty. We need to do all we can to educate our servicemembers and the public about PTSD, so we can recognize the symptoms and take steps to help those who are suffering."
Senator Heitkamp's PTSD resolution is co-sponsored by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), JonTester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Mark Begich (D-AK), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John
Hoeven (R-ND), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Below is a full copy of Senator Heitkamp's resolution
"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 servicemembers 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 servicemembers 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 servicemembers, veterans, the families of servicemembers 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.