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Published:July 10th, 2010 12:34 EST

Obama: Veterans With Post-traumatic Stress Deserve Best Care

By SOP newswire3


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2010 " The Veterans Affairs Department will begin making it easier for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to obtain the benefits and treatment they need starting next week, President Barack Obama said today in his weekly message, calling veteran care the nation`s solemn responsibility. "

The full text of the message follows:

Last weekend, on the Fourth of July, Michelle and I welcomed some of our extraordinary military men and women and their families to the White House.

They were just like the thousands of active duty personnel and veterans I`ve met across this country and around the globe. Proud. Strong. Determined. Men and women with the courage to answer their country`s call, and the character to serve the United States of America.

Because of that service; because of the honor and heroism of our troops around the world; our people are safer, our nation is more secure, and we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq by the end of August, completing a drawdown of more than 90,000 troops since last January.

Still, we are a nation at war. For the better part of a decade, our men and women in uniform have endured tour after tour in distant and dangerous places. Many have risked their lives. Many have given their lives. And as a grateful nation, humbled by their service, we can never honor these American heroes or their families enough.

Just as we have a solemn responsibility to train and equip our troops before we send them into harm`s way, we have a solemn responsibility to provide our veterans and wounded warriors with the care and benefits they`ve earned when they come home.

That is our sacred trust with all who serve " and it doesn`t end when their tour of duty does.

To keep that trust, we`re building a 21st century VA, increasing its budget, and ensuring the steady stream of funding it needs to support medical care for our veterans.

To help our veterans and their families pursue a college education, we`re funding and implementing the post-9/11 GI Bill.

To deliver better care in more places, we`re expanding and increasing VA health care, building new wounded warrior facilities, and adapting care to better meet the needs of female veterans.

To stand with those who sacrifice, we`ve dedicated new support for wounded warriors and the caregivers who put their lives on hold for a loved one`s long recovery.

And to do right by our vets, we`re working to prevent and end veteran homelessness " because in the United States of America, no one who served in our uniform should sleep on our streets.

We also know that for many of today`s troops and their families, the war doesn`t end when they come home.

Too many suffer from the signature injuries of today`s wars: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. And too few receive the screening and treatment they need.

Now, in past wars, this wasn`t something America always talked about. And as a result, our troops and their families often felt stigmatized or embarrassed when it came to seeking help.

Today, we`ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we`ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.

But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits " veterans of today`s wars and earlier wars " have often found themselves stymied. They`ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.

Well, I don`t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I`ve met enough veterans to know that you don`t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.

So we`re changing the way things are done.

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Eric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.

This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.

It`s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they`ve been there for us. We won`t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I`m Commander-in-Chief, that`s what we`re going to keep doing. Thank you.