Help Stop PTSD Suicides

Matt Kuntz with President-elect Obama Dear Friends,

This important letter is from Matt Kuntz, one of our featured speakers at Mental Health America’s Centennial Conference (June 10-13, 2009). We first heard about Matt’s story last year from then Senator Obama on the campaign trail. Later we watched Matt on the whistle stop tour with President-elect Obama as they traveled to the Inauguration. We finally met Matt early this year, heard his story, and invited him to speak at the Conference as part of a panel with national leaders that will address the mental health needs of veterans. We share his moving letter with you (below) in the hope that his dedicated advocacy will inspire you and your colleagues to take action.

Sincerely,

David Shern

David Shern, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Mental Health America


Friends and Family,

I’m writing to ask you to take a few minutes to contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators to ask them to support comprehensive mental health screenings for our returning soldiers.

Two years ago, our family lost my step-brother Chris Dana to a post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) induced suicide sixteen months after he returned from Iraq. The events around Chris’s death led Governor Brian Schweitzer and the Montana National Guard to develop the premier program in the country for caring for National Guard members suffering from PTSD. In my opinion, the foundation of this successful system is a series of five face-to-face mental health screenings that every service member must complete upon their return home from combat. This broad screening program overcomes many of the traditional barriers that have kept service members from receiving treatment for PTSD, because it does not require service members to act for help for their injury (an action that runs contrary to military culture). The broad screenings also reduce the stigma of being treated for PTSD.

Senator Max Baucus, Congressman Denny Rehberg, and Congressman Mike Thompson introduced to implement this common sense screening program throughout our fighting force. The Act would require face-to-face screening before deployment, upon return home, and then every six months for two years. This basic and effective program will help safeguard the mental health of our entire fighting force for approximately the same price tag as a single F-22 Fighter. The Act is supported by Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the National Guard Association of the United States, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

Please take a few minutes out of your day to contact your Congressional Representative and Senators to ask them to support this critical legislation (Senate Bill 711 and House Bill 2058). Our military suicide rates are at record levels and climbing. We can’t afford to wait any longer to help our heroes get the care they deserve.

Please also forward this email to anyone that you believe would like to help our returning heroes and their families. We need your help to make this a nationwide effort to stop these preventable deaths.

Thank you,

Matt Kuntz

 

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Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor "The Post Deployment Health Assessment Act of 2009" (Senate Bill 711, House Bill 2058) to enact an in-depth and effective mental illness screening program for our fighting force.

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Please take a leadership position on this critical issue by co-sponsoring this bill. We need to stop this tidal wave of preventable deaths.

Sincerely,

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