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Mullen Renews Commitment to ‘Military Health Issue of Our Era’

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2010 – Calling post-traumatic stress “the military health issue of our era,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last night re-emphasized his commitment to ensuring that war veterans and their families get all the help they need to deal with war’s invisible scars.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with the family of Army Sgt. 1st Class William Frass at the premiere of the HBO documentary "Wartorn 1861-2010" at the Pentagon, Oct. 28, 2010. The film, produced by James Gandolfini, explores the history of post-traumatic stress disorder and its effect on troops, veterans and their families throughout American history, from the Civil War to current conflicts. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“Post-traumatic stress syndrome spans many generations,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the audience at a special screening of the HBO documentary “Wartorn, 1861-2010” at the Pentagon Auditorium.

The documentary, which debuts on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, chronicles the effect of combat stress and post-traumatic stress on servicemembers and their families from the Civil War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mullen said he is concerned that the stress felt by servicemembers returning from war could plague them for years in the future.

“We must remember the profound sacrifices” made by the nation’s servicemembers, he said. He expressed his concern for the veterans who come home with mental images and dreams of war they cannot shake, only to face new challenges that can include unemployment, financial strain or family stress.

Post-traumatic stress has affected many generations of “powerful and tough veterans and their families,” Mullen said, and military leaders are doing all they can to help. “But much works remains to be done,” he added, noting that the nation owes its returning veterans and their families the best possible care.

“We must take better care of them,” he said. “We must take care of them for the rest of their lives.”

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Navy Adm. Mike Mullen

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Transcript: Panel Discussion Following Premiere



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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

10/31/2010 8:03:41 AM
I agree with ADM Mullen. We have got to get this right. INtegral to the PTSD-TBI issue is getting a handle on suicide attempt and completion rates. To date, we have been doing more of the same with our training and programs. It's time to lead the nation in preventing suicide by "listening to the survivors, both those who attempted and were (thankfully) unsuccessful, and family members who are now trying to achieve a "new normal" after the suicide of their loved one. As an Army officer, physician, and healthcare administrator-educator, I am alos one of the latter and would like to have an audience with ADM Mullen to share what I and my wife have learned from our own experience and from the stories of the ever increasing leagion of families coming to us for answers.
- COL George Patrin, NRMC, MEDCOM

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