Yesterday VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Robert Gates opened the first-ever VA and Department of Defense summit on mental health at the Capitol Hilton in Washington. The summit brings together leaders across both departments, medical practitioners, and military and veterans' advocates, including AMVETS, to discuss mental health issues related to military service.
Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the invisible wounds of war have become a major concern for the veterans' community. A recent RAND report shows that up to twenty percent of all service members who deployed in support of the conflicts have exhibited some symptom associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury.
Pentagon and VA have come together in an effort to better serve those affected by service-related mental health issues at the summit, which runs through Thursday.
In his opening remarks, Shinseki tasked the summit with three goals: Build on current levels of mental health care; maintain advances by promoting psychological health, resilience and prevention; and establish a mental health care model that leverages national resources beyond the military.
AMVETS National Commander Duane Miskulin has made military and veterans' mental health his top priority since taking office in September, making this summit critical to the work of AMVETS and its partners.
AMVETS National Deputy Legislative Director Christina Roof was on hand for the first day's activities, listening to a variety of speakers who brought a wealth of expertise in the mental health field to the summit.
American Veteran will be following the summit closely over the next three days. Check back regularly with American Veteran Online for updates.
(Photos: Top: VA Secretary Shinseki addresses the VA/DoD mental health summit at the Capitol Hilton. Hyperlink to official DoD story by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden. DoD photo by Cherie Cullen, released. Right: Defense Secretary Gates addresses the summit. Photo by Christina Roof.)