VA and Senate launch campaign to raise PTSD awareness

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) observed June 27 as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness (PTSD) Day for the fourth consecutive year, while the Senate passed a resolution designating June as National PTSD Awareness Month in an effort to improve diagnosis and treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD.

The resolution recognizes that PTSD is undertreated and underreported due to stigma and a lack of awareness. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America says the disorder affects an estimated 20 percent of post-9/11 veterans, while the VA reports that Vietnam veterans have “high lifetime rates of PTSD ranging from 10 to 31 percent.”

The goal of this year’s campaign is to help veterans, their caregivers, families and members of the veteran and military community to learn about the PTSD treatment options available to help improve and save lives. The campaign also emphasizes the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of PTSD, which can sometimes be hard to detect. If left untreated, PTSD can lead to homelessness, depression and even suicide.

“Raising PTSD awareness is essential to overcoming the myth, misinformation and stigma that too often prevents veterans from seeking help . . . We encourage everyone to join us in this important effort to share important information about PTSD and help veterans receive care they need,” said VA secretary Robert A. McDonald.

Online resources for raising PTSD awareness are a major focus of the 2015 campaign. The VA runs the National Center for PTSD, which has a website that offers access to the PTSD Coach Online, PTSD Coach mobile app, an online video gallery of veterans discussing the disorder and its treatments and continuing education opportunities for health care providers, among other useful materials.

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