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WOODALL: Remembering our veterans

Rep. Rob Woodall, Republican congressman from Georgia's 7th District

Rep. Rob Woodall, Republican congressman from Georgia's 7th District

Like many holidays, Veterans Day brings us together as a nation to reflect on our freedom. But, it is a particularly special holiday because it is dedicated to the men and women who have defended and protected the hope and promise of those freedoms and liberties. People across the country will show their gratitude in many ways. Our nation’s school children will study the many contributions that veterans have made to our society and the world, communities will hold events and ceremonies honoring our veterans, some people will volunteer in a veterans’ hospital, and others will spend the day with a parent, grandparent, child, or good friend who may have recently returned home from serving overseas.

Our veterans are a great inspiration to us all. Veterans Day brings home for me -- as it does for so many others -- the tremendous sacrifices made by our heroes and their families. America's veterans inspire me to be the best public servant I can be and protect the values for which they so valiantly fought.

On the occasion of this Veterans Day, I would like to take the opportunity to talk about an issue that can be difficult to discuss: the care and treatment of our veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While America has done a great job providing our men and women overseas with the resources they need to fight the forces of evil and win, we must continue to do better in getting them the resources they need when they come home. PTSD is a silent and hidden battle scar. Nearly a third of our heroes who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are being treated in the VA health care system for PTSD.

Indeed, it is a major health challenge for our military. Since the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was created more than 20 years ago within the VA, we have made great improvements toward the research, education, treatment, and outreach efforts for PTSD, but there is more work to be done.

Wounded warriors have contacted me to express concern that a stigma exists when they reach out for assistance for PTSD. I know that many service members are still reluctant to seek treatment for mental health issues connected with their service. My promise to our wounded warriors this Veterans Day is to do all I can to get them the help they need for PTSD. I want our wounded warriors to know that their internal battle scars are not invisible to me. I am here for all our heroes every single day. I can help to make it easier for our veterans to get connected to the right mental health professional and get started with the best treatment in the world.

If you or a loved one are suffering from the symptoms of PTSD and are having difficulties reaching out or getting the care you need and deserve, I would encourage you to contact my office at 770-232-3005 for assistance. Our nation's heroes should never feel that they are alone. They were there for America when we needed them, and we must be there for them now.

May God bless all our veterans on this special holiday and every day. May God bless America.

Rob Woodall is a U.S. Representative from Lawrenceville.