The third annual National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day is being marked Wednesday on Capitol Hill with an event meant to promote public understanding of issues faced by many returning servicemembers.
“We want all Americans to understand the true nature of PTSD to help remove the stigma that still surrounds this type of injury,” said Thomas Mahany, president of Honor for All, one of the organizations sponsoring the “Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds”gathering.
The event, to be held at 10 a.m. at Upper Senate Park adjacent to the Russell Senate Office Building, will include remarks from veterans who have been affected by PTSD as well as members of Congress and the surgeon generals of the Army, Air Force, Navy and National Guard. Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler is to deliver the keynote address.
Soprano Jennifer Lynn Waters is also scheduled to perform at noon.
PTSD Awareness Day was first established by Congress in 2010 after Sen. Kent Conrad, (D-N.D.), proposed honoring North Dakota Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, who took his own life following two tours in Iraq. Biel’s birthday was June 27.
“National PTSD Awareness Day should serve as an opportunity for all of us to listen and learn about post-traumatic stress and let all our troops — past and present — know it’s okay to come forward and ask for help,” Conrad said in a statement.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the recent surge in the number of military suicides “troubling and tragic” at a suicide prevention conference sponsored by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs in Washington last week.