Purple Hearts for PTSD: Report Calls for Change in Military Culture; Outlines Mental Health Needs of Veterans
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a special report today, Parity for Patriots: The Mental Health Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families.
The report calls for Purple Heart medals to be awarded for psychological wounds like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and for military commanders at all levels to be accountable for suicide prevention and elimination of stigma.
"NAMI is drawing a line in the sand with the Department of Defense," said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "Troops with invisible wounds are heroes. It's time to honor them. It will also strike a tremendous blow against the stigma that often discourages individuals from seeking help when they need it."
The full report is available online at www.nami.org/veteransreport. It includes statistics, tables and charts including:
- One in five active duty military personnel have experienced symptoms of PTSD, depression or other mental health conditions
- One active duty soldier dies by suicide every 36 hour and one veteran every 80 minutes
- Suicides have increased within National Guard and Reserve forces, even among those who have never been activated and are not eligible for care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- More than one third of military spouses live with at least one mental disorder
- One third of children with at least one deployed parent have had psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and acute stress reaction
The report's call to action includes increasing the VA's service capacity and having the U.S Department of Health & Human Services fully implement the 2008 mental health insurance parity law.
The report also calls on all Americans to "reach out, listen and care" to help veterans in need.
"Simple things make a difference" said Fitzpatrick. "Give veterans rides, watch their children or grant them extra time off from work in order to make it possible for them to get treatment. Our troops don't leave wounded comrades behind. Don't leave veterans or their families behind."
NAMI is calling for better mental health care for active duty service member, National Guard troops and veterans and an end to stigma in military culture and the nation's broader society.
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope.