The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

October/November 2003
PTSD/SUBSTANCE ABUSE COMMITTEE REPORT
   
 

New Beginnings, Tough Challenges

BY TOM BERGER, CHAIR


It is a great pleasure to report that I will be serving as the new Chair of this important VVA committee. As former Chair Steve Mason said in his 2002 Semiannual Committee Report, "In truth, PTSD is the one malady that crosses all other conditions and interfaces with all other VVA committees.'' I hope to continue the good work initiated by Steve and the previous committee members, all of whom served with great dedication during the past two years.   

Although current committee membership nominations have yet to be confirmed by the Board ofDirectors, they include several former committee members, representatives from AVVA, and some people new to the national committee scene. Each prospective member has committed towork hard, not only to translate the 2003 National Convention PTSD/SA resolutions into action,but also to raise the awareness of PTSD and substance abuse issues at all levels within and outside the organization.

At this time, our challenges are daunting as well. Take, for example, the recently released President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Report quoting the President in his address that established the commission on April 29, 2002: "Our country must make a commitment. Americans with mental illness deserve our understanding and they deserve excellent care. They deserve a health system that treats their illness with the same urgency as physical illness.''  

At the same time, however, Congress has failed to pass the $1.8 billion increase for VA medical operations sought by VVA and other veterans service organizations earlier this summer. Couple this with the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Service (CARES) proposal within the VA itself, and we could very well witness a serious reduction in VA mental health programs, including those focused on PTSD and substance-abuse treatment. Please let your elected members of Congress know that such actions and proposals are completely unacceptable to our nation's veterans.  

   

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