Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day is an opportunity to draw attention to PTSD, raise awareness for the treatments available to those affected, and recommit to supporting Americans who are burdened by this disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder results from having experienced or witnessed a terrifying event. The most common traumas associated with PTSD are sexual and interpersonal violence, being involved in a car accident, witnessing serious injury or the death of another person, or being in combat. Those experiencing PTSD often struggle to control their emotions and may have unexpected outbursts, often straining supportive personal relationships and causing them to feel alone or uncared for. Many individuals suffering from PTSD also struggle with depression and substance abuse.
Diagnosis and treatment of this disorder are critical. Unfortunately, far too many Americans suffering from PTSD don’t get the care they need, a problem that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus. That is one of the reasons why we have increased Medicare telehealth coverage under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, providing those who are suffering from PTSD with expanded access to medical care from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
We also recognize that our veteran community has long been disproportionately affected by PTSD, and we must use all tools at our disposal to ensure every veteran knows they are not alone in their fight, especially during our ongoing response to the coronavirus. The CARES Act allocates $19.6 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand programs that support our veterans, including services for mental health and additional access to the VA Video Connect app—an innovation that offers a virtual and secure platform free of charge for patients to video conference with their VA medical providers. This effort builds on the success of an Executive Order I signed in March of 2019 establishing the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). The groundbreaking PREVENTS initiative brings together government and private-sector organizations to deploy extraordinary, evidence-based tactics that help prevent veteran suicide. Additionally, during the coronavirus pandemic, Second Lady Karen Pence has also been raising awareness about the #MoreThanEverBefore campaign to encourage all Americans to reach out to veterans during these unusual and difficult circumstances. In order to support and sustain these much-needed initiatives into the future, my fiscal year 2021 budget requests $313 million for suicide prevention—a 32-percent increase from the enacted fiscal year 2020 level—to ensure that our veterans receive the care they have so rightly earned.
On this day, we embrace the more than 8 million Americans struggling with PTSD and remind them that they are not alone. Together, we will work to ensure that every American has access to the support and care they need to live a healthy and happy life.