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

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.

“Post-trau­mat­ic stress syn­drome spans many gen­er­a­tions,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the audi­ence at a spe­cial screen­ing of the HBO doc­u­men­tary “War Torn, 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.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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