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39 States and both Houses of Congress drop the “D” to diminish stigma

A WOUND NOT A WEAKNESS     

     The diagnostic term PTSD was first crafted in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association to commonly describe severe traumatic combat stress in Vietnam veterans. As a result of intensive research and recent developments in electro-magnetic imaging, it has been shown that severe post-traumatic stress can cause physical, and reversible, changes within the brain which more accurately describe an injury than a disorder – a treatable wound calling for timely care.

     Beyond the harmful affect it has on cure, the dispassionate use of the word “disorder” assails the sense of honor due the brave men and women who have received these wounds in action against an enemy of the United States and similarly fails to acknowledge the gallantry exhibited by first-responders while putting themselves at risk on a regular basis. At the community level, its use can inadvertently disparage the character of victims of crime and abuse, as well as survivors of life-threatening accidents and natural disaster.

     Plainly, there is room for advancement here. Under the premise that an elevation in recognition and compassion can translate into a reduction in stigma and the subsequential loss of life, our goal is to eliminate the word “disorder” from the vernacular when referring to this very common human experience and replace it with the more honorable less stigmatizing term post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI)

     We do not support merely dropping the word “disorder” from the title, leaving it as Post-Traumatic Stress or PTS.

     We do not want to counteract the APA’s existing distinction between common post-traumatic stress and the more debilitating form of that condition.

     As specified in DSM 3 through 5, it is normal to have post-traumatic stress (PTS) after directly or indirectly experiencing  a traumatic event, a stressor, as defined under paragraph A of the PTSD Criteria. When symptoms persist, and the brain does not reset itself, meeting all Criteria  A through H the components signify debilitation. A traumatized, yet uninjured, brain stays in appropriate alarm mode as needed, returning to normal within a month. An injured brain has been physically altered and needs medical attention.

     Although we are a veterans organization, our concern is with all who suffer from the psychological and moral injuries now grouped together under the term Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For individual Bills, Resolutions and Proclamations in 2018 go to *Supporters*. 

 

   PTSI RESOLUTION TEMPLATE 

 

WHEREAS, all citizens of the United States possess the basic human right to the preservation of personal dignity;

WHEREAS, all citizens of the United States deserve the investment of every possible resource to ensure their lasting physical, mental, and emotional well-being;

WHEREAS, the diagnosis known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first defined by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 to more accurately understand and treat veterans who had endured severe operational combat stress;

WHEREAS, combat stress injuries have historically been unjustly portrayed as a mental illness caused by a preexisting flaw of character or ability, and that the word “disorder” carries a stigma that perpetuates this misconception which can discourage the injured from seeking proper and timely medical treatment,

WHEREAS, referring to the complications from combat operational stress as a disorder perpetuates the stigma of and bias against mental illness;

WHEREAS, that rather characterize the condition as a disorder, it has been shown though electro-magnetic imaging that it is more accurately described as an injury;

WHEREAS, severe post-traumatic stress is a very common, and treatable, injury to the brain which can occur following exposure to extremely traumatic events such as, but not exclusive to: interpersonal violence, combat, life-threatening accidents or natural disasters;

WHEREAS, referring to the condition as post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) is less stigmatizing and viewed as more honorable, and this designation can favorably influence those affected and encourage them to seek treatment without fear of retribution or shame;

WHEREAS, all citizens suffering from post-traumatic stress injury deserve our compassion and consideration, those brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have received these wounds in action against an enemy of the United States further deserve our special tribute and acknowledgement; and

WHEREAS, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) is an injury that is repairable, and that timely treatment can diminish complications and prevent suicides among the injured:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, be it RESOLVED that the (Senate/House/Assembly):

designates June 27th of each year is designated as (state) Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day;

designates June as (state) Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month;

respectfully urges our Departments of Public Health, Military and Veterans Affairs to continue working to educate victims of interpersonal violence, combat, life-threatening accidents or natural disasters and their families, as well as the general public, about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress injury and

respectfully directs that this resolution be transmitted to the Governor for appropriate proclamation and execution and to the Secretary of State for appropriate publication and preservation.   

 

 

Tom Mahany started a hunger strike on Veterans Day 2009 lasting 29 days to draw attention to the issue of combat stress and related suicide. He fasted again in August of 2012, this time for 17 days, when he learned that the number of suicides among active duty service members 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 of posttraumatic stress injury.

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

Honor for ALL is responsible for initiating the first governmental resolution of its kind designating Post-traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day

Adopted concurrently by the House and Senate of the State of Michigan, June 23, 2014:

June 27, 2014, is designated ‘‘Michigan Post-traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day’’

Whereas the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces, who proudly serve the United States, risk their lives to protect the freedom 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 2,000,000 United States service members have deployed as part of overseas contingency operations since the events of September 11, 2001;

Whereas the military has sustained an operational tempo for a period of time unprecedented in the history of the United States, with many service members deploying multiple times to combat zones, placing them at high risk of post-traumatic stress injury (referred to in this preamble as “PTSI”);

Whereas it is expected that ten thousand veterans will return to the State of Michigan every year for the next three to five years after spending a significant amount of time in combat environments, exposing thousands of soldiers to traumatic life threatening events;

Whereas the Department of Veterans Affairs reports that in fiscal year 2012, more than 500,000 veterans from all wars sought care at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center received treatment for PTSI;

Whereas PTSI significantly increases the risk of depression, suicide, and drug and alcohol related disorders and deaths;

Whereas the Department of Defense and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs have made significant advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSI and the symptoms of PTSI, many challenges remain; and

Whereas the establishment of a Michigan Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day will raise public awareness about issues related to PTSI:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the (Senate/House) —

(1) designates June 27, 2014, as ‘‘Michigan Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day’’;

2) urges the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and The Adjutant General to continue working to educate servicemembers, veterans, the families of servicemembers and veterans, and the public about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress injury; and

(3) respectfully requests that the –(Sec of the Senate/Clerk of the House)– transmit a copy of this resolution to the governor of the State of Michigan.

Tom Mahany and others talk about suicides among Vietnam Veterans