Reps. Peters, Mast, Brindisi, Katko Introduce Bipartisan Bill During COVID Crisis To Raise Awareness Of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury In Veterans
June 14, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52), Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) and Rep. John Katko (NY-24) introduced a bipartisan resolution to reduce the stigma that prevents veterans and servicemembers from seeking mental health care. The legislation would designate June as National Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) Awareness month and June 27th as National PTSI Awareness Day.
“Ask servicemembers about their injuries, and they will likely show you the visible scars sustained from their service. What they are more reluctant to share are mental scars - the less visible but equally harmful injuries,” said Rep. Peters. “When 20 of our nation’s heroes die from suicide each day, it’s evident we must break the stigma associated with accessing mental health treatment and embolden our veterans to seek help when they need it.”
“Rarely does a day go by when I don’t talk to a veteran who is struggling with their own self-worth,” Rep. Mast said. “While the physical wounds may heal, the mental toll of war follows many servicemembers home. Removing the stigma around mental health is critical to making sure our brothers and sisters in arms feel safe seeking help in their fight against post-traumatic stress.”
“Our brave men and women in uniform sacrifice so much to keep our country safe and some of them come home with the unseen wounds of Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries,” said Rep. Brindisi. “Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health care starts with raising awareness of these injuries, but it continues with actions like making sure our Veterans and active duty servicemembers have access to the mental health care services they need. I am willing to work with anyone to get that done. I want to thank Congressman Mast, Congressman Peters, and my good friend Congressman Katko for joining me in this effort.”
“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), between 12-30% of all veterans will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime,” said Rep. Katko. “That’s why today, I am joining a bipartisan group of my colleagues in introducing a resolution to designate June 2020 as ‘National Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month’ and June 27, 2020 as ‘National Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day.’ By raising awareness of PTSD and reducing the stigma associated with seeking support for mental health disorders, our measure aims to encourage more servicemembers and veterans to pursue treatment.”
While post-traumatic stress is commonly linked to time spent in combat, it can also occur as the result of other traumatic stressors including acts of violence and abuse, and in cases of disaster and emergency. The current public health emergency and economic crisis brought on by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is expected to increase the number of those impacted by or exacerbate the responses of post-traumatic stress.
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced a companion resolution in the Senate. The House resolution has a total of 14 co-sponsors.
Rep. Peters first introduced the bill during the 115th Congress with Rep. Walter Jones (NC-03), who passed away last year. Rep. Peters then introduced the bill again with Rep. Mast in June 2019. Peters previously served on the House Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.