- Honor for ALL’s mission is reduction of the needless loss of life from inadequate treatment and understanding of post-traumatic stress injuries
- Engagement and education of the public on the realities of these injuries
- Promotion of personal growth and resilience among the wounded
- For the past five years we have been working closely with fist, the office of former Senator Conrad of North Dakota and now, Senator Heitkamp, his successor, to designate June 27 as National PTS Awareness Day and June as National PTS Awareness Month
- For the past four years Honor for ALL has sponsored and administered national commemorations of these resolutions
- National ceremonies were first held in Washington DC and are now held in New York City
- Our ultimate goal is have resolutions adopted in every state and commemorations in every community
- The personal involvement of every citizen is essential to keeping Post-traumatic Stress Injuries from becoming Disorders
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
The keynote address at this year’s Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds ceremonies will be delivered by Staff Sargent Ty Carter, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2013.
He will be joined at the podium by representatives from the offices of: the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Navy; Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America; the Wounded Warrior Project; Service Women’s Action Network; the FDNY Commissioner and NYPD Commissioner; individuals from the national healthcare sector, and last, but certainly not least, individuals among us now dealing with the everyday consequences of post-traumatic stress.
February 12, 2013
Members of the Federal Interagency Task Force on Improving the Mental Health of Veteran Service Members and Military Families:
As we strive as a nation to better understand, accept and treat the systemic mental illness and injury brought upon by 10 plus years of combat; dedicated research, educational development, and elimination of stigma are all areas equally in need of betterment. Therefore, we ask that you consider the following recommendations for inclusion of your report to the President:
1) Expand and coordinate research;
In the past two decades multiple public and private organizations partnered to concentrate research and develop treatments for AIDS. A similarly collaborative effort can and should be applied to invisible wounds and their complications. Incentives resulting in increased funding and participation can expedite needed advancement in this area.
- We ask that the Task Force and the Administration adopt policy providing incentives for new and extensive research into brain function, illness and injury.
- We ask that the Task Force and the Administration adopt policy providing incentives to encourage academic, commercial and governmental collaboration on research and development of new treatments for invisible wounds.
2) Embrace and educate the public sector;
The Veterans Administration has the Make the Connection campaign and of the Department of Defense has the Real Warrior campaign. These are good and important anti-stigma campaigns, but still targeted principally toward the military and veterans. It is essential that we include the remaining 90-plus percent of the population in this messaging and outreach.
- We ask that the Task Force and the Administration establish, or otherwise procure through a professional public relations firm, a campaign designed to parallel that of the American Cancer Society and the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation in their successful effort to conquer the stigma of breast cancer using such programs as local and national awareness functions; volunteer walk/run events; benefit concerts; participation of professional sports; and celebrity public service announcements.
3) Invest in education of our youth;
In order to someday realize the permanent elimination of the stigma, we must provide our youth with the facts relating to invisible wounds. Such education would be most beneficial during their formative years, before prejudices develop.
- We ask that the Task Force and the Administration direct the Department of Education to develop accredited syllabuses for the formal instruction of our youth on the subject of invisible wounds and illnesses. Social stigma, self-stigma, bullying, revenge and obliteration are all topics which need to be included in such instruction.
4) Invest in continued education of primary care providers;
Many veterans and families at risk first look to their primary care providers for help with invisible wounds. We should insure that these providers are equipped with the best possible knowledge available
- We ask that the Task Force and the Administration direct the appropriate agency to develop an accredited syllabus for the continued education of primary care providers on the symptoms of mental health issues, and the eligibility and availability of mental health resources in their area.
5) Enable education of interstate health care administration;
SAMHSA needs to be provided funding in order to complete its State Policy Academy initiative. This will give it the ability to educate those who are charged with distributing such information in all fifty states and territories about the unique needs of the military, veterans, and their families and provide them the opportunity to develop and implement an effective strategy.
- We ask that SAMSHA be provided the necessary funding in order to complete their State Policy Academy initiative.
6) Recognize the award of the Purple Heart as an immediate antidote to stigma and a valuable healing aid;
Originally conceived by George Washington, then called the Badge of Military Merit, The Purple Heart is now a sacred award meant to distinguish and help mend those who have been wounded in defense of our freedom. We ask, should the presentation of this award be solely based on blood spilled or, more encompassing, about sacrifices made by our warriors who have suffered wounds whether visible or invisible? To continue to deny the Purple Heart for invisible wounds is to continue to deny the reality of these wounds. We are in fact excluding those who most disparately need inclusion. Bestowal of the Purple Heart can provide affirmation and acceptance where all else only descends. It is the singularly most effective means we now have at hand to immediately carve away at the social stigma, and more importantly, the self-stigma of invisible wounds.
- We ask that the Task Force and the Administration direct the Department of Defense to reopen the discussions on the award of the Purple Heart to for posttraumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries, left unfinished by the Department of Defense in 2009.
- We ask that the Task Force endorse the changing of the name, in the American Psychiatric association’s Diagnostic and Statistics Manual, fifth Edition (DSM V), of the diagnosis Post-traumatic Stress Disorder to Post-traumatic Stress Injury.