Bipartisan Resolution Would Make June Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month

June 17, 2020 by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON – New legislation filed in the House of Representatives would designate June 27 as National Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day and all of June as National PTSI month. The resolution, along with its companion legislation in the Senate, seeks to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health care among veterans and active duty service members. 

The legislation was authored by California Republican Rep. Scott Peters with strong support from Rep. Brian Mast, a Democrat representing Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Peters, who has served on the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees, previously introduced the same bill in June 2017 during the 115th Legislative Session. 

“Ask service members about their injuries, and they will likely show you the visible scars sustained from their service,” Peters said. “What they are more reluctant to share are mental scars — the less visible but equally harmful injuries.” 

Mast, a former explosives specialist with the Department of Homeland Security, is a United States Army veteran who lost his legs during a tour of Afghanistan. Mast was a bomb disposal expert in the Army and has made veterans affairs a high priority since he was elected in 2016. 

Although most commonly linked to time spent in armed combat, PTSI can also manifest after instances of disaster, emergency, physical violence or emotional trauma. The number of individuals impacted by PTSI is expected to climb significantly in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. 

“Rarely does a day go by when I don’t talk to a veteran who is struggling with their own self-worth,” Mast said in a statement. “While the physical wounds may heal, the mental toll of war follows many service members 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.” 

Joining Peters and Mast in the effort to pass the resolution are New York Representatives Anthony Brindisi and John Katko. Although Brindisi is a Democrat and Katko is Republican, the legislators made it a point to reach across the aisle when seeking support for the resolution. 

“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,” Brindisi said. “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 service members have access to the mental health care services they need. I am willing to work with anyone to get that done.”

In total, 14 co-sponsors have signed on to support the resolution. Arkansas GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan and Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduced the resolution’s companion bill in the Senate. 

“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, between 12 to 30 percent of all veterans will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime,” Katko said in a statement. “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.’”

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