Shaheen, Hassan & Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Post-Traumatic Stress Resolution

June 12, 2019

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced a resolution yesterday with a bipartisan group of Senators led by Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), designating the month of June as National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month and June 27th as National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Day.

“For their service and sacrifice to our nation, we owe our returning service members the very best care available so they can heal and recover from traumas of war. Some of their wounds may be more visible than others, which is why it’s imperative that those struggling have the support they need – from health care professionals and our communities—and that we all work together to destigmatize post-traumatic stress and other mental health struggles facing our veterans,” said Senator Shaheen. “We are sending a clear message to all our veterans that Congress is committed to delivering on our nation’s promise to support our military members and their families, which includes providing the resources necessary to help veterans live healthy, successful and happy lives when they come home.”

 

“Far too many of our servicemembers and veterans who sacrifice to defend our freedoms experience mental and emotional trauma as a result of their service,” said Senator Hassan. “During the month of June, and throughout the entire year, we must continue working to ensure that our nation’s heroes have the support and resources they need to thrive in civilian life, specifically those living with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chris Coons (D-DE), Steve Daines (R-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Todd Young (R-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) also signed on as cosponsors of the resolution. 

Below is the full text of Senate Resolution 220:

Designating the month of June 2019 as “National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month” and June 27, 2019, as “National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Day”.

Whereas the brave men and women of the Armed Forces, who proudly serve the United States, risk their lives to protect the freedom of the people 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 2,770,000 members of the Armed Forces have deployed overseas since the events of September 11, 2001, and have served in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq;

Whereas the current generation of men and women in the Armed Forces has sustained a high rate of operational deployments, with many members of the Armed Forces serving overseas multiple times, placing those members at high risk of experiencing combat stress;

Whereas, when left untreated, exposure to traumatic combat stress can lead to post-traumatic stress, sometimes referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder (in this preamble referred to as “PTSD”) or post-traumatic stress injury;

Whereas men and women of the Armed Forces and veterans who served before September 11, 2001, remain at risk for post-traumatic stress;

Whereas the Secretary of Veterans Affairs reports that approximately—

(1)   11 to 20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year;

(2)   12 percent of veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War have PTSD in a given year; and

(3)   30 percent of veterans who served in the Vietnam era have had PTSD in their lifetimes;

Whereas many combat stress injuries remain unreported, undiagnosed, and untreated due to a lack of awareness about post-traumatic stress and the persistent stigma associated with mental health conditions;

Whereas exposure to trauma during service in the Armed Forces can lead to post-traumatic stress;

Whereas post-traumatic stress significantly increases the risk of anxiety, depression, suicide, homelessness, and drug- and alcohol-related disorders and deaths, especially if left untreated;

Whereas public perceptions of post-traumatic stress or other mental health disorders create unique challenges for veterans seeking employment;

Whereas the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and veterans service organizations, as well as the larger medical community, both private and public, have made significant advances in the identification, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of post-traumatic stress and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, but many challenges remain;

Whereas increased understanding of post-traumatic stress can help eliminate the stigma attached to this mental health issue;

Whereas additional efforts are needed to find further ways to eliminate the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress, including—

(1)   an examination of how post-traumatic stress is discussed in the United States; and

(2)   a recognition that post-traumatic stress is a common injury that is treatable;

Whereas post-traumatic stress can result from any number of stressors other than combat, including rape, sexual assault, battery, torture, confinement, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters, and affects approximately 8,000,000 adults in the United States annually;

Whereas the diagnosis now known as PTSD was first defined by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 to commonly and more accurately understand and treat veterans who had endured severe traumatic combat stress;

Whereas the word “disorder” perpetuates the stigma associated with combat stress; and

Whereas the designation of a National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month and a National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Day will raise public awareness about issues related to post-traumatic stress, reduce the associated stigma, and help ensure that those individuals suffering from the invisible wounds of war receive proper treatment: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) designates June 2019 as “National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month” and June 27, 2019, as “National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Day”;

(2) supports the efforts of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense, as well as the entire medical community, to educate members of the Armed Forces, veterans, the families of members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and the public about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress;

(3) supports efforts by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to foster cultural change around the issue of post-traumatic stress, understanding that personal interactions can save lives and advance treatment;

(4) welcomes the efforts of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder of the Department of Veterans Affairs and local Vet Centers (as defined in section 1712A(h) of title 38, United States Code) to provide assistance to veterans who are suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress;

(5) encourages officers of the Armed Forces to support appropriate treatment of men and women of the Armed Forces who suffer from post-traumatic stress;

(6) recognizes the impact of post-traumatic stress on the spouses and families of members of the Armed Forces and veterans; and

(7) 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.