Vol. 48, No. 1

In this Edition

Every time there is a mass shooting in America, a predictable political storyline unfolds — Democrats and those on the left say it’s time to pass tougher gun laws, while Republicans and those on the right say it’s time to reform the way we treat the mentally ill.

The Fight to Rebuild Our Broken Mental Health System

Over 2 million Americans with serious mental illness go without treatment each year. This Congressman believes it’s time to help them, and he’s got a plan to do just that.

The Real Mental Health Crisis in America

According to this expert and activist, the problem facing the nation’s mental health system is not one of money. Rather, it’s one of misplaced priorities.

The Wisconsin Example

The Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly discusses how his state is reinvesting in mental health care and a package of reforms that was recently approved.

A Q&A with Gordon Smith

Over a decade after the death of his son, this former Oregon Senator is spearheading a campaign to raise awareness of depression and end the stigma of the disease.

The Invisible Wounds of War

Today, one veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes. A look at the work being done to end this epidemic and care for the combat-related injuries that no one can see.

The Cost of Doing Nothing

After years of deep budget cuts, an examination of why investing in mental health care not only saves money, but saves lives.

A Proactive Step Toward Better Cyber Security

At a time when Congress is seemingly paralyzed by dysfunction, progress is being made to keep America’s cyberspace secure.

In Pursuit of the American Dream

Is it possible to quantify happiness? These two researchers think they have developed a formula that will do just that.

The New Politics of Evasion

A quarter century after Democrats moved to the center to regain relevance, a look back at their move and the lessons fore Republicans todya.

Ripon Profile of Adam Kinzinger

“My focus in Congress is getting the folks of the 16th District back to work, reigning in government spending, and ensuring we pass down to the next generation a country stronger and more free than the one we were given.”

The Invisible Wounds of War


Our nation has been at war for more than 12 years. Since September 11, 2001, we have sent more than 2 million of our sons and daughters into harm’s way. These patriots have selflessly volunteered to defend the freedoms we hold dear as Americans.

As more and more of our service members return home, the responsibility of our nation to live up to promises made is getting more difficult.

One of the greatest challenges facing service members and veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the stigma associated with these diagnoses. These heroes are suffering internally through no fault of their own. It is easy to see the physical wounds, but it’s impossible to look inside the mind of a man or woman who needs help.

According to the National Institute of Health, there are more than 600,000 veterans with PTSD. In 2012, there were 50,000 cases of PTSD diagnosed, and some estimate 184 new cases are diagnosed each day. Since 2001, there have been more than 230,000 cases of Traumatic Brain Injury.

According to the National Institute of Health, there are more than 600,000 veterans with PTSD.

These numbers are staggering. Unfortunately, they’re also increasing each year. This is an epidemic.

Now, as citizens, it’s our turn to act. This is why we have launched the Help Save Our Troops campaign at the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF).

The Help Save Our Troops campaign proactively educates Americans about the invisible wounds of war, including PTSD and TBI, and advocates for those troops and veterans who have suffered these hidden wounds. The ultimate goal of Help Save Our Troops is to reduce military suicides. Through this campaign, the AFF provides counseling services for military families, including children, grants for therapy and addiction counseling, and runs a variety of recreational group therapy programs to boost morale among service members, veterans, and their families.

Tragically, for some families, it is already too late. In 2012, there were 349 suicides among active duty service members, which is more than were killed in action. Currently, one veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes, up from one every 80 minutes during 2012. This, too, is an epidemic that deserves national attention and needs to end.

In 2012, there were 349 suicides among active duty service members, which is more than were killed in action.

The Help Save Our Troops campaign also seeks to alter the way that the military healthcare system deals with the repercussions from the invisible wounds of war. The AFF is advocating for an 18-month extension of TRICARE mental health benefits, which would allow service members and veterans to access the care they so urgently need, even if the problems take root long after the initial injury is sustained.

Another step that Congress can take is passing the reauthorization of the TBI Act, which would allow for grants to be extended through 2018 to provide better access to rehabilitation services.

The AFF has also partnered with USC’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families in an effort to provide veterans with counselors who have served in combat situations themselves. Additionally, the AFF established a partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Military and Veterans Health Institute to work on innovative research in tissue regeneration, PTSD and TBI therapies, and better ways to diagnose these wounds. Doctors from Johns Hopkins have participated in the Foundation’s Congressional Lecture series and other programs discussing PTSD and TBI and the innovation being conducted at the Institute. Since 2011, the AFF has partnered with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Plastic Surgery on an awareness effort for their innovative hand and face transplant program.

There are many promising advancements being pursued in the medical treatment of invisible wounds. A blood test is being developed in order to more accurately diagnose the severity of a TBI soon after the injury. Research is being done to determine the effectiveness of hormone treatments that could improve the outcomes of people suffering from TBI.

These efforts rely on modest financial support from Congress, but have the potential to drastically impact treatment for these invisible wounds. The AFF is committed to raising awareness for these programs and advocating for more research into healing the long-term impacts.

The AFF prides itself on returning 95 cents of every dollar raised to help service members, veterans, and their families cope with the invisible and physical wounds and ensure we truly live up to our motto of “Serving those who Serve.”

We don’t want anyone to become a statistic. We’re here to help.

Patricia Driscoll is President and Executive Director of the Armed Forces Foundation.