George W. Bush Institute Holds Summit on Post 9/11 Veterans

02/19/2014

The George W. Bush Institute held a summit on February 19th, 2014 to discuss how to most effectively serve post-9/11 veterans. The event included remarks from President George W. Bush and Dr. Jill Biden, as well as a discussion between ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, Gen. Peter Pace and Stephen A. Schwarzman about the unique needs of veterans; a panel that attempted to prioritize the issues of this generation of veterans, including Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Kenneth Fisher, D. Wayne Robinson and John Thiel; and a panel about the roles of the private and non-profit sectors with the Honorable Alvin Brown, Jean Case, Joe DePinto, Kent R. Hance and Jake Wood.

In his remarks, President Bush addressed the relationship between unemployment and poor mental health. According to an internal study, veterans face higher rates of unemployment than their civilian counterparts and “veterans without a steady job are more susceptible to other problems, like depression and addiction and homelessness and suicide.” President Bush also spoke about post-traumatic stress disorder and his desire to reduce the stigma surrounding the condition. He believes that some veterans are reluctant to seek help because they are either unaware of treatment options or because their condition has been mislabeled as a disorder. According to President Bush, “most doctors will tell you, post-traumatic stress is not a disorder” but rather “an injury that can result from the experience of war.” He stressed in his remarks that post-traumatic stress is treatable and can be controlled through medication, therapy, and other treatments.

One of the missions of the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute is to help end the stigma of post-traumatic stress. Part of that mission is to change the way veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress are viewed by employers who cite it as a reason not to hire veterans, because veterans “are not mentally shattered… they are people who got hurt defending our country and are now overcoming wounds.” President Bush, along with the George W. Bush Institute, wants “make clear that veterans receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder are not damaged goods” and believes the “study will help employers understand what veterans have to offer.”