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Opening Statement of Hon. Jeff Miller, Ranking Republican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Following every war in history, what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD has sadly affected the lives of many brave men and women who have worn the uniform.

And, this Committee over the years has held numerous hearings to bring to the forefront the emotional toll the trauma of combat can lay on our veterans and the need for us as a Nation to effectively care for those who suffer with military-related PTSD and experience difficulty reintegrating into civilian life.  

In response to a Congressional mandate, VA established the National Center for PTSD in 1989.  This Center was created to advance the well-being of veterans through research, education and training in the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.  VA has since moved to expand its programs and currently employs over 200 specialized PTSD programs in every health care network.  Available care includes cognitive behavioral therapy, which is shown to be a most effective type of treatment for PTSD.

Many service members who develop PTSD can recover with effective treatment.  Yet, PTSD it is still the most common mental disorder affecting OIF/OEF veterans seeking VA health care.  About 20% of all separated OIF/OEF veterans who have sought VA health care received a PTSD diagnosis.  Even more alarming, a recent study conducted by VA shows that young service members between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the highest risk for mental health problems and PTSD, being three times as likely as those over 40 to be diagnosed with PTSD and/or another mental health problem.

Clearly PTSD remains a very prominent injury that our veterans endure and that is precisely why today’s hearing is so crucial.  We must continue to focus on how best to strengthen research and rapidly disseminate effective clinical care in all settings so that we can finally understand this illness, break through it and move forward with complete recovery  - bringing relief to the many heroic veterans who still fight daily battles no less harrowing than the ones they fought in combat.

On that end, I want to thank our witnesses for being here today to present their expert views on what may cause, and more importantly, preclude PTSD from emerging among our veterans.

Again, thank you, and I yield back.