(Senate - June 27, 2013)

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[Pages S5487-S5488]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                      OBSERVING PTSD AWARENESS DAY

  Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, on this important day, Post Traumatic 
Stress Disorder--PTSD--Awareness Day, we must pause to reflect on the

[[Page S5488]]

contributions of our Nation's veterans and recommit ourselves to a 
sacred promise that should never be forgotten: that they served this 
country, and this country will always care for them no matter the 
  This year, for the first time, based on a resolution that I 
cosponsored, the Senate has recognized June as PTSD awareness month. 
This is a good step in our effort to raise awareness of the invisible 
wounds our returning servicemembers far too often face. But today in 
particular, we must recognize that there is so much more to be done to 
fully heal those wounds, support families, and truly save lives.
  I recently had a meeting, one I will never forget, with a number of 
immensely brave West Virginia veterans and their families who were 
willing to publicly share the struggles they face every day as a result 
of PTSD.
  The Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense were 
there for our discussion in West Virginia, and I am glad they were.
  We heard from wives who stand firmly by their husbands' sides as the 
horrors of war manifest at home in frightening ways. We heard from a 
father who hurts every day knowing the inner turmoil his son faces. And 
we heard from veterans who served their country without question, 
through multiple tours of duty, but have encountered nothing but stress 
and resistance when seeking the care they unquestionably earned.
  They have faced stigma and a lack of understanding about their 
private struggles. And they have faced untenable--and, truthfully, 
life-threatening--delays in getting the strong mental health care they 
  This has been the case for two of the veterans who courageously 
joined our discussion--both of whom had been fighting for the benefits 
we owe them. I vowed to do everything I could for them, and I celebrate 
today knowing that with our help their benefits have been approved, and 
they now have some measure of peace.
  But I do not rest--because there are thousands more veterans out 
there fighting and waiting for that good news.
  Without the right care at the right time, things can start to spiral 
out of control for veterans with PTSD--financial hardship, marital 
stress, feelings of hopelessness. It is our job to deliver that care.
  With the end of the Iraq war, and with tens of thousands of veterans 
coming home from Afghanistan, the VA and the DOD know the complexities 
of caring for returning servicemembers with conditions like PTSD and 
Traumatic Brain Injury--TBI. But as the demand for mental health care 
increases, we must be prepared to swiftly and strongly answer the call 
for our newest veterans and those from every generation.
  The VA recently announced that it has filled 1,600 mental health 
positions and the vacancies of more than 2,000 mental health clinical 
providers. This is an important step, and something I pushed for. But I 
believe we must do more to deliver the timely, consistent, 
individualized care our veterans need, including providing highly-
skilled doctors and therapists and making sure that care is always 
  We must end the months-long delay that places veterans in limbo when 
transitioning their paperwork from active duty status at the DOD to the 
VA. And we can no longer expect veterans tormented by mental health 
issues to twist and turn through multiple levels of bureaucracy to get 
the care we owe them.
  This is a difficult issue. But we can not let the complexity be an 
excuse for not delivering care for our veterans. No one is more 
  We know the system can work for our veterans when the VA, DOD, vet 
centers, counselors and support networks get it right. And we know the 
right kind of care when it is most needed can keep families together. 
It can also transform and save lives.
  Near the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made a solemn 
commitment to, ``bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall 
have borne the battle . . .'' We should be relentless in our efforts to 
uphold that pledge for each and every veteran and their loved ones--
today and every day