July 10th, 2010
09:42 AM ET
8 years ago

Obama announces changes for vets with post-traumatic stress

(CNN) – President Barack Obama is announcing upcoming changes in the way veterans with with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder qualify to receive help.

In his weekly internet and radio address, Obama said the Department of Veterans Affairs will lead efforts in reforming the way veterans with PTSD receive benefits to pay for the care they need.

“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,” said Obama.

“Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application,” he added. “And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.”

Full transcript of address after the jump

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 Ric 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.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Finally!

    Our vets wouldn't have gotten this from a Republican president.

    Have you ever noticed that Republican politicos just gush over supporting our troop etc., but when our guys and gals come home and leave the service, they get squat from the GOP. A few years ago even the "war hero" John McCain voted against a bill extending benefits to out veterans.

    July 10, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  2. Dawn

    Thank you Mr. President!! Thank you for my son, who will be going to Afghanistan. Thank you for the vets already home. Thank you for any future veteran. I'm sure that the Republicans will find a way to blame something on you though. Keep doing the right thing, we are appreciative and behind you!!

    July 10, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. seebofubar

    Better allocate some funds for Post Obama Stress Disorder. This country is going to need it after we get rid of this bafoon.

    July 10, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Pragmatic

    During the presidential campaign, Obama averaged an 86% rating from the Disabled Veterans of America.

    July 10, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. Charlie in Maine

    No matter what your politacal leanings you have to be for this one as an American.

    Good job Mr. Presiedent.

    July 10, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Keith in Austin

    Although I support the President's action to help our Veterans with PTSS, it is hard to stomach Obama's comment, "We take care of our own as long as I'm Commander in Chief" REALY Mr. President? Why don't you tell that to the People of Arizona that you are suing? Since when are Illegals our own?

    Your flowery words continue to pale compared to your actions and America has awoken to your empty rhetoric.
    2012 cannot get here soon enough!

    July 10, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. BeverlyNC

    Thank you President Obama for another great solution for the People. Republicans sure love war and are willing to spend billions on it, but when it comes to taking care of our soldiers and our veterans, they are nowhere to be found.
    Republicans love to play war but are not willing to deal with the consequences. Our soldiers desperately need help and thank goodness President Obama once again sees a problem and solves it.

    July 10, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Anonymous

    @ Keith in Austin....well said! All Arizona is doing is enforcing the federal law which he and Holder won't touch!

    July 10, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. S Callahan

    This is a good thing...with one concern for me though....when one considers the economic factor of our country....and the PTSD sufferer who currently holds a stable job..and may just leave that job to recieve well deserved benifits...one has to wonder...will it be only to loose everything in a few years should the economy tank.....just sayin'.......

    July 10, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. mother and sister of a soldier

    @ Keith in Austin.....well said! Where is the sense to sue a state trying to uphold a federal law Obama and Holder won't enforce???

    @BeverlyNC....please remember it was the democrats who sent us into Vietnam and once again, as told by my brother who did two tours with the 1st Infantry and multiple purple hearts, the democrats did not give the men what they needed to fight the enemy! No different than what Obama did when he took weeks to act upon the military request for more troops in Afghanistan while more men died. Stop blaming the republicans for wars....look to history to see who the pres were during all our wars!

    July 10, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. JonDie

    Republicans must be screaming; Obama for being such a softy. Bush (an alleged wartime desertor) had the perfect Republican solution: Send the severely traumatized back into battle...until they either get over it or get killed.

    July 10, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Hugo

    Great for the vets, they deserve a hand up when they get back. Don't worry though I'm sure Obama and his progressive clowns will tie some other non-related funding legislation to it. You know, like redecorating Queen Pelousy's office or jetting off to campaign for some louse...

    July 10, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. norm

    Yak, yak, yak, BO, All hat and no cattle rides again.

    July 10, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Donald

    @ mother and sister of a soldier, who got us in two wars we couldnt afford? Thats right a republican. who wouldnt send more troops to afg. For a yr and a half, obama has been trying to clean up the sh!t hole left by a republican pres. i u would proud if he ran the war like bush right. maybe he should invade north korea or cuba, maybe that would make republicans like urself happy. btw every notice when obama visit troops all the flashing and hi fives, every see that with bush, didnt think so

    July 10, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Langlais

    @mother and sister of a soldier...Republicans = pro life and pro war. An oxymoron if I ever heard one. How can anyone claim to believe in life and support the killing of innocents all in the name of patriotism? Hypocrites!!!!!!!

    July 10, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Mike in Texas

    Our President does something positive and yet you still have haters who come in here with Debbie Downer's syndrome and post something negative that doesn't relate to this subject.

    Hugo, Keith in Austin....etc. Quit being such haters. If you were given a free car including free insurance and the whole nine yards you would still complain about the color.

    July 10, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Donald

    U republicans are too funny. Lets see, u give a republican pres a surplus he blow it in a week. The towers get knock down, Two wars, the ecomony crash, and obama is bad. give me a break. didnt u guys get stimlus checks under bush? Now its defict this and that. the US has had a defict since GW was president. Stop whining and come with solutions, if U cant STFU.

    July 10, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Hendrik

    I love these Republicans:

    It was the Democrats who got us into Vietnam
    It was the Democrats who had slaves
    It was the Democrats who are responsible for Freddie and Fannie

    Never a word about the Republicans' much more recent criminal behavior. All the pukes can do is bring up things from waaaayyyy back.

    Typical "conservative" (aka racist) behavior.

    July 10, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Peter s

    Excellent job mr President!!

    July 10, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. La Piovra

    It follows that, under a past regime run by plutonomists, veterans too damaged to be profitable to their masters had to be either used up or discarded. Now that money is to be spent on their rehabilitation, watch the used-Lipton contigent take up the cry that this is a Commie tarball plot to expand the national debt.

    July 10, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. DENNA

    Thank you, Mr. President. Our troops, forced into service for no good reason by Bush, need all of the help they can get. I feel so proud to be an American and I love these people and their families dearly. Please bring them home as soon as you can.

    July 10, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. Ted van Tol

    to Hugo,

    No respect for your President who is working his hart out for his country and taking the vets serius. Fear and hate is what I hear from you.

    July 10, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. dax

    What will all you “four and the door” tin foil hat wearing clowns say when President Obama is re-elected? Hopefully by then you will have grown the brains to realize that you are the minority! Then maybe you and your rulers – Rush, Sean, and Pit-bull Falin will leave our country for someplace less educated and hence more appreciative of your views. We the People can only hope.

    July 10, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Orlando R.

    Even when these right-wing republicans or a conservatve secretly agree wih obama,their still gonna critize the presdent! They want him to fail! For once can we agree this is good for our vets? Shame on u! no wonder this country is divided...thanks to president and the GOP in the last 8 years!!

    July 10, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. John from VA

    i've just finished my tours and I'm not reenlisting. Thank God I don't have PTSD (at least not that I know of) and my injuries we're light (a broken arm and 1st degree burns). But a lot of my buddies over there do and seeing some of you on this post using this as a political football is disgusting.

    This is part of what makes me want to go back, to be as far away as possible from you people, sitting comfortably in your chair knowing everything about everything and blaming everyone but yourself for it. I don't care about the politics and never will. All I can say is since this president took office, we, back in Af-Pak have mattered again before during and after our deployment. since he took office there is a sense of purpose over there again (at least in my unit), that's where most of the high fives come from. and i didn't even vote for the guy.
    Again I'm not talking about the rest of his policies and frankly on this one I truly don't care.
    Any intelligent being can agree that af-pak has finally become a priority again and it is POTUS we can thank for that.
    please leave your political nonsense out of this one cause people are dying over there.

    July 10, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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