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Donnelly: Must Continue to Raise Awareness about Invisible Wounds of War

June 24, 2014

Donnelly_headshot_SenateWashington, D.C. – Senator Joe Donnelly co-sponsored and helped pass a bipartisan resolution in the Senate on Monday night designating June 2014 as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. This designation will help increase awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related health risks, while also seeking to reduce the stigma associated with PTSD.

Donnelly said, “It’s critical that we not only continue to talk about the mental health challenges facing servicemembers and veterans, but take action to respond to those who are suffering from the invisible wounds of war. Having a month devoted to post-traumatic stress disorder awareness is important to our ongoing efforts to build a greater understanding of mental health concerns and reduce stigma. We must keep educating the public as well as servicemembers, veterans and their families about the causes, symptoms and treatment of PTSD.”

Donnelly joined Senator Heidi Heitkamp and 20 colleagues in introducing the resolution. This marks the second consecutive year the Senate has designated a full month for national PTSD awareness. The resolution states that since October 2001, more than 310,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have received health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs have been diagnosed with PTSD. This figure does not include cases of PTSD that remain unreported or undiagnosed.

Donnelly continues to work with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure the mental health and psychological needs of servicemembers and veterans are addressed. Last month, Donnelly’s Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2014 passed the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Sexton Act would ensure that mental health is evaluated regularly as a central element of a servicemember’s overall readiness by requiring annual mental health assessments for all servicemembers, including members of the Active, Guard and Reserve components. Donnelly also helped pass several provisions in the national defense bill that would improve mental health care for servicemembers and their families.