William Schlenger, lead investigator for the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVLS), spoke at the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Leadership & Education Conference in Wichita. He confirmed what many of us know: PTSD stays with some Vietnam veterans for decades after the war. Even with treatment, PTSD can be something to manage for a lifetime—for veterans and for their families.
The Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2014 (Senate Bill 2738) deserves our consideration and support. This bill would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxins while in the armed forces.
Witnessing the struggles of a child or grandchild who has health problems due to the toxic exposure of the parent or grandparent can easily exacerbate symptoms of PTSD and depression. Contacting your representatives in support of this bill will ensure that we are not just sinking into helpless depression. It will also ensure that we are doing something to help minimize the impact of toxic exposure on our descendants.
New public service announcements were unveiled at the Leadership Conference: They covered toxic exposure, PTSD, and membership recruitment. Please distribute these PSAs to your local radio and television stations. The PSAs can be found at www.vva.org Scroll to the bottom right-hand side and click on the YouTube logo.
The need to take care of our own mental health was highlighted at the Leadership Conference. The discussion of suicide among veterans was well received. The session leader, executive director of the Veterans Health Council, emphasized the importance of staying aware of each other’s concerns and behaviors. Being involved with family, a veterans service organization, and friends is good medicine.