In February of 2015 Honor for ALL is began working with Adjutant Generals Association of the United States (AGAUS) and National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) on a campaign to enlist all state legislatures and governors to adopt individual yearly resolutions and proclamations designating June 27 as Post-traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day and June as Post-traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month.
We use the word injury and not disorder in our designation – a subtle distinction which may be small in substance, but large in scope. We believe the word disorder portrays a negative image, discouraging some from seeking care and others from caring. It diminishes the sense of honor that should accompany battle-borne injury.
No one wants to be told they have a disorder, least of all a proud young veteran. Their immediate and even instinctive reaction is to deny it. Denial interferes with treatment. The injury, left untreated will worsen and can then develop into a disorder. Our goal is to eliminate the disorder by recognizing the injury.
In 2015 we were able to secure proclamations and resolutions designating June 27 as Post-traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day in 8 states, the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Fellow TAGs, This month of June is PTSD awareness month and many of you
will work with your state leadership to have a proclamation signed and other
promotion events. During the February AGAUS meeting, we had Thomas Mahany
come and ask us to consider promoting a proclamation for PTSI (Post
Traumatic Stress Injury) versus disorder. Several states have moved forward
already with their efforts to change. Governor Branstad has agreed to move
forward with the change in Iowa and I would like for other to consider
supporting the effort. I have attached our proclamation that was worked
through both Governor’s office and Mr. Mahany. Thanks for your
consideration and if you have any questions I have listed Tom’s email for
Timothy E. Orr
MG, Iowa National Guard
The Adjutant General
WHEREAS, the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces proudly serve the United States and risk their lives to protect our freedom and they deserve our caring and attention to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being; and
WHEREAS, more than 2,500,000 United States’ service members have deployed as part of overseas contingency operations since the events of September 11, 2001; many of our veterans return home with a new challenges to fight and struggle with in their own silence; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of our service members have been clinically diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – a condition affecting an estimated 7.7 million Americans; and
WHEREAS, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) occurs after a person has experienced a trauma; and can result from the stress of combat, as well as rape, sexual assault, battery, torture, confinement, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disaster and is characterized by numerous symptoms; including flashbacks, avoidance, hyper vigilance, nightmares, re-experiencing, anxiety, cognitive deficits, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and thoughts of suicide; and
WHEREAS, while post-traumatic stress has historically been viewed as a mental illness caused by a pre-existing flaw in the individual’s brain or character; it has been learned that post-traumatic stress is a very common injury to the brain that is treatable and repairable; and
WHEREAS, efforts should continue to make the condition less stigmatizing and more honorable in order to increase the number of those affected to voluntarily seek help and assistance; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Defense, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Institute of Mental Health have made significant advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSI and the symptoms of PTSI; all citizens suffering from post-traumatic stress injury deserve recognition, and those who have received these wounds while serving to defend our freedom deserve our respect and special honor:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim June 27 as
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS INJURY AWARENESS DAY
and encourage continued efforts to educate our service members, veterans, and families, as well as victims of abuse, crime and natural disaster, and the general public about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress injury.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I HAVE HERE-UNTO SUBSCRIBED MY NAME AND CAUSED THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF IOWA TO BE AFFIXED. DONE AT DES MOINES THIS 3rd DAY OF JUNE IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN.
TERRY E. BRANSTAD
GOVERNOR OF IOWA
The state of Indiana has designated June 27, 2015 as Post-traumatic Stress Awareness Day
Introduced First Regular Session of the 119th General Assembly (2015)
House of Representatives of the State of Indiana
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
Urging that the diagnostic label of
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder be changed to Post-Traumatic Stress Injury
Whereas, The diagnosis now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first defined to commonly and more accurately understand and treat veterans who had endured severe traumatic combat stress;
Whereas, Post-traumatic stress can result from any number of stressors other than combat, such as rape, sexual assault, battery, torture, confinement, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disaster, and affects about 7.7 million Americans;
Whereas, Post-traumatic stress can occur at any age, including childhood;
Whereas, Post-traumatic stress is characterized by numerous symptoms, including flashbacks, avoidance, hyper vigilance, nightmares, re-experiencing, anxiety, cognitive deficits, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and thoughts of suicide;
Whereas, Due to these complications, those suffering often develop emotional numbness, leading to alienation and loss of interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past to them and their loved ones;
Whereas, Post-traumatic stress has previously been viewed 2015HC 1045/DI 842 as a mental illness caused by a pre-existing flaw in the individual’s brain or character;
Whereas, Many still believe post-traumatic stress is a disorder which the injured is faced living with for the remainder of his or her life;
Whereas, In fact, post-traumatic stress is a very common injury to the brain that is treatable and repairable;
Whereas, The term “PTSD” carries a stigma of misconceptions that the injury is a disorder that is not repairable or treatable;
Whereas, Referring to this injury as a disorder perpetuates the stigma of and bias against mental illness;
Whereas, This stigma discourages those suffering from post-traumatic stress from seeking proper medical treatment;
Whereas, Service members, veterans, first responders, and victims of abuse, crime, and disaster, as well as members of their families, see that the negative associations of having a psychological disorder keep some individuals from seeking treatment;
Whereas, Making the condition less stigmatizing and more honorable can increase the percentage of those affected who voluntarily seek help; and
Whereas, Timely treatment can diminish suicide rates among all citizens, particularly our younger veterans:
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, the Senate concurring:
That the Indiana General Assembly agrees with those individuals and organizations urging that the diagnostic label of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder be changed to Post-Traumatic Stress Injury.
That the members of the Indiana General Assembly 6 urge Governor Michael Pence to designate June 27, 2015, as “Indiana 2015HC 1045/DI 84
Tom Mahany started a hunger fast in 2009 to draw attention to posttraumatic stress (PTSD). He fasted again in 2012 when he learned that the number of suicides among veterans had doubled from June to July.
Now Mahany heads up the veterans’ advocacy group Honor for ALL, which organizes an annual event, Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds, to raise awareness about posttraumatic stress.
This year’s event recognized the passing of legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp designating June 2014 as National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. JB Moore, NAMI Manager for Military and Veterans Policy and Support, represented NAMI at the event.
Though usually held in Washington, D.C., Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds took place in New York City on Saturday, June 28, 2014 and was co-hosted by the Mental Health Association of New York City. The scope of the program was expanded to include first responders and victims of abuse.
The keynote speaker Staff Sergeant Ty Carter, who has struggled with PTSD, was the 2013 recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. When awarding the Medal of Honor, President Obama described SSgt. Carter this way, “He’s as tough as they come. And if he can find the courage and the strength to not only seek help, but also to speak out about it, to take care of himself and to stay strong, then so can you.”
In addition to SSgt. Carter, officials included commissioners from the New York City police and fire departments, representatives from the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Navy; the Wounded Warrior Project; Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA); Service Women’s Action Network.
“It is reprehensible that an estimated 22 veterans take their lives each day”, declared JB in her remarks. “Posttraumatic stress is treatable. Let’s eradicate stigma!”
According to Mahany, “There was an unmistakable message from the event. Posttraumatic stress is an injury that needs to be accepted and honored as such. If we don’t attend to it, it will be allowed to progress into a disorder.”
Earlier this year, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2014 – introduced by U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), as part of this year’s National Defense Authorization (NDAA) bill. If passed, this legislation will: (1) Require annual mental health assessments for all service members-Active, Reserve, and Guard; (2) Establish a working group between the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services; and (3) Require an interagency report to evaluate existing military mental health practices and provide recommendations for improvement.
According to Mary Giliberti, NAMI’s Executive Director, “The National Alliance on Mental Illness strongly supports the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2014 and applauds Senator Donnelly for his recognition that suicide rates among active duty service members, National Guardsmen and Reservists are unacceptably high and in dire need of attention. This important piece of legislation advances NAMI’s goals of parity, accountability, collaboration and action.”
Honor for ALL is already at work organizing next year’s National Posttraumatic Stress Awareness activities. Events will be held in New York, Michigan, San Diego, and Indianapolis, all on Saturday June 27, 2015.
Tom Mahany believes the sure sign of true awareness about posttraumatic stress will be when Major League Baseball plays with purple bats for the month of June