President Obama focused extensively on the mental health issues and needs of American veterans in his speech yesterday at the American Legion's annual convention. "We’re giving unprecedented support to our wounded warriors, especially those with traumatic brain injury," he told the audience.
The president brought up the issues of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide in veterans, saying: "We’re working aggressively to address another signature wound of this war, which has led too many fine troops and veterans to take their own lives, and that’s posttraumatic stress disorder. We’re continuing to make major investments: improving outreach and suicide prevention, hiring and training more mental health counselors, and treating more veterans than ever before."
He called for an end to the stigmatization of PTSD and depression, pointing to his decision to start sending condolence letters to the families of service members who kill themselves while deployed in a combat zone: "These Americans did not die because they were weak. They were warriors. They deserve our respect. Every man and woman in uniform, every veteran, needs to know that your nation will be there to help you stay strong. It’s the right thing to do."
For more about suicide among combat troops and Obama's decision to send condolence letters to their families, see Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/15/13.full.
(Image: American Legion/Tom Strattman)