July 10th, 2010
09:42 AM ET
10 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. Hugo

    Donald, get real...
    The Congress voted to go to Iraq and to Afghanistan. Please check the vote tally and I think you will see the Democrats were a majority in both votes for war. How soon we forget 9/11, every American wanted some payback. I never believed in war with Iraq but always kind of felt that at least Bush was smart enough to bring the fight to them somewhere we could win, Afghanistan is a lost war. The problem in our Nation is simple, both Parties have been corrupted by the Special Interest monies, our legislative officials deem it accepptable to break our Federal laws that were in place to prevent what is happening from happening. You want to change the Nation, clean the system, flush them all out and start anew with honest moral ethical citizens, we are a Republic not a mob.

    July 10, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Larry

    Nice job Mr. President.

    Dubya sent our guys to war and the wounded got treated to the "Walter Reed Hilton" when they came back...the run-down, mold infested excuse of a hospital. That was the way Dubya said "Thanks" to the wounded troops.

    Thanks for caring about them.

    July 10, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Randall in Torrance, CA - Disabled Veteran for Obama

    Thank you President Obama. Veterans always get the short end of the stick. My understanding is that when a veteran is retired and is disabled like I am, that we have to wait to receive our full retirement. I am going through this now as all other disabled retired vets do too. But all other federal employees besides DoD get their full retirement and disability pay immediately in full.

    America does not realize how veterans are actually treated in America by our own government. I am not complaining, because most if not all veterans just suck it up and don't think about it – we are just proud to serve. And veterans benefits are getting better for those who served on or fter 9/11 because of the new GI bill. I had to pay for my own college education after retirement in 1999 because their were no college benefits for me then as a veteran – not even the Montgomery GI bill. I am over $70, 000 in debt with college loans as a retired disabled vet. So it's good to see the PTSD and other benefits improving. Even vets who are now civilians who served on or after 9/11 are getting college tuition paid plus housing allowances. But there are still many like me who are outside the range of receiving those benefits because of the time they went into effect.

    God bless America, our troops and our great President Barack Obama, who I hope will be able to end this senseless drawn out war that George Bush and Cheney started under false pretenses just for oil leaving over 4000 American troops killed for a lie.

    July 10, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    You want to help vets? RESIGN!

    July 10, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Bessy

    Thank you Mr. President. I'm sure our vets appreciate everything you are doing for them. These 2 wars are not of your doing and all you can do is work with what you were left with. At least you are working to help our vets which is long overdue.

    July 10, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Yes good job Obama. There is an alarming amount of suicides by Iraq/Afganistan vets suspected to be caused by PTSD.

    July 10, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. InlandEmperor

    Thank you Mr President..... Many are hopeful that you will extend general VA benefits to those that served our country honorably as ER'S ( Enlisted Reserves ) and NG's ( National Guardsmen ). These Americans served their country for six ( 6 ) or more years and should be entitled to healthcare benefits.

    July 10, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. emma

    No one doubts the huge expense of treating veterans with PTSD, but an
    argument is that mental health treatment should be included in the
    budget before sending Americans to war.

    July 10, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. mamacoo

    Oh my goodness. Even when the President tries to look after the military you haters come out en mass just to vilify him. WE GET IT!!! You all hate President Obama no matter what he does. We understand now go and wallow in the misery Republicans continue to dish out for you and leave the rest of us alone.

    July 10, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. John

    @mother and sister.... the supplies for Vietnam in the beginning were WW2 vintage. It was not because the Government didn't want to it was because we didn't have supplies.
    Please look at recent history. Who put us in to two wars and tried to run both on the cheap? Rumsfield resisted sending more troops in no matter what his generals asked for and the administration of Iraq was just plain FUBAR. This administration is now trying to clean up that mess and fight the war we should have been fighting all along. The Republican arrogance is why we are in the mess we are in.

    July 10, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. ronaldmiller3@verizon.net

    about time for too long our vets have been ignored,and the repugs haven't lifted a hand to help them.

    July 10, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Willa-PA

    You go Mr. President. Barry and Joey/2012

    July 10, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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