Dear Thomas:

 

The stress of war can take a toll on one's heart, mind and soul. While these wounds may be less visible than others, they are no less real.

 

America is engaged in two wars and all too many of our service men and women are returning from battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms like anxiety, anger, and depression. More must be done to educate our troops, veterans, families and communities about this illness and the resources and treatments available to them.

 

Last night, the United States Senate passed a resolution I authored that designates June 27, 2010 as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day.

 

I got the idea for PTSD Awareness Day after learning of the efforts of North Dakota National Guardsmen to draw attention to PTSD and pay tribute to Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, a friend and member of the 164th Engineer Combat Battalion. Biel suffered from PTSD and took his life in April 2007 after returning to North Dakota following his second tour in Iraq.

 

National PTSD Awareness Day is about assuring our troops - past and present - that it's okay to come forward and say they need help. We want to erase any stigma associated with PTSD. Our troops need to know it's a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek assistance.

 

This Sunday, June 27, is Joe Biel's birthday.  May his memory inspire us to pay special tribute to those who have served our nation.

 

To learn more about PTSD and locate facilities offering assistance, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD at http://www.ptsd.va.gov

 

Veterans in need of immediate assistance can call the Veterans Health Administration Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

 

Sincerely,
 

KENT CONRAD

United States Senate


 

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