NGAUS Washington Report
(April 16, 2013) Nearly 20 representatives of veterans organizations and mental health associations, as well as medical experts, will gather Wednesday at the National Guard Memorial to discuss how to combat the stigma still attached to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental health maladies.
The roundtable discussion at the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C., will focus on whether awarding a Purple Heart to someone suffering from combat-induced PTSD will help lessen the stigma and encourage people to seek treatment.
"This is a topic that requires serious discussion," said Pete Duffy, the NGAUS acting legislative director. "Thousands of veterans have returned from the war zones with this invisible wound and are either reluctant to seek help or don't know where to turn."
Duffy said the gathering this week will attempt to find a strategy for recognizing the severity of PTSD by awarding a Purple Heart to those who suffer from it. This action would lessen concerns sufferers have about admitting their problems and asking for help.
Taking part in the discussion will be Dr. Frank Ochberg, former associate director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Dr. William Nash, a retired Navy captain and a psychiatrist.
Other participants will include representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Brain Injury Association of America, the Purple Star Veterans and Families, Honor for All, the Yellow Ribbon Fund and others.
Duffy said NGAUS is pleased to host such a gathering and he is certain a clear strategy for helping those in need will result from the day-long discussion.