During wartime, countless soldiers and military families are exposed to life-threatening circumstances. A medical finding suggests that military service members and veterans are increasingly being affected by a disease known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
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Military Mental Health and National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day

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During wartime, countless soldiers and military families are exposed to life-threatening circumstances; some obvious, others more hidden. A medical finding suggests that military service members and veterans, and especially returning soldiers - from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Desert Storm, and Vietnam - are increasingly being affected by a disease known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In Congress, Resolution 541 was introduced to acknowledge Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and move towards making treatment more widely available by designating June 27 as annual "National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day." The U.S. Senate passed the resolution submitted by Sen. Kent Conrad [D-ND].

Senator Conrad developed the idea for a National PTSD Awareness Day after learning of the efforts of North Dakota National Guardsmen to draw attention to PTSD and pay tribute to Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, a member of the 164th Engineer Combat Battalion. Biel suffered from PTSD and took his life in April 2007 after returning to North Dakota following his second tour in Iraq.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious psychological, emotional, and physical illness that affects large percentages of military service members and their families. An estimated twelve percent of Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, eleven percent of Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, ten percent of Operation Desert Storm veterans, thirty percent of Vietnam veterans, and at least eight percent of the general population of the United States suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Women, who are more than twice as likely to experience PTSD than men, are increasingly engaged in direct combat on the front lines, putting these women soldiers at even greater risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

From 2003 to 2007, approximately 40,000 Department of Defense patients were diagnosed with PTSD. From 2000 to 2009, more than 5,000 individuals were hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of PTSD and more than 500,000 individuals were treated for PTSD in outpatient visits. The trend shows these numbers continuing to rise each year. But awareness of the symptoms of PTSD can make it a treatable disease.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder significantly increases the risk of depression, suicide, and drug and alcohol related disorders and deaths. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have made significant advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and recognizing its symptoms, but challenges remain. Establishing a National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day is designed to raise public awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

By designating a `National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day," the senate urged the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to continue working to actively educate servicemembers, veterans, the families of servicemembers and the public about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.



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