Michael Waltz Looks to Include United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act in NDAA

A congressman from the Sunshine State is doubling down on his proposal to team up with Israel to help research post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Back in January, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, introduced the “United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act.”

“The United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act, would leverage research assets and experiences of the U.S. and Israel to develop best practices in the research, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. The legislation also establishes a grant program for American universities and private non-profits teaming up with Israeli counterparts to research PTSD,” Waltz’s office noted.

U.S. Reps. Elaine Luria, D-Va., Chrissy Houlahan, D-Penn., and Lee Zeldin, R-NY, were the original cosponsors of the bill which now has almost 100 supporters, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Donna Shalala, D-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., Ross Spano, R-Fla., Greg Steube, R-Fla., and Ted Yoho, R-Fla.

“Serving in combat changes you – and many times, our service members return home much different than they were when they deployed,” Waltz said when he introduced the bill. “This is not their fault. PTSD is a natural response for our service members who have seen war firsthand  — and it affects veterans from all backgrounds and walks of life. It’s critical we leverage every tool possible to better help our veterans heal from PTSD and adjust to life back home.”

“Too many of our bravest men and women come home with invisible wounds from the trauma they experienced while fighting for our country,” Luria said back in January “Congress can uphold its end of the promise by facilitating groundbreaking research to find treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. The United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act will help achieve this important goal by promoting cooperation between American and Israeli institutions to develop innovative cures for this condition.”

Waltz’s office stressed how many recent veterans are suffering from PTSD.

“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have PTSD. Women veterans of these conflicts have a higher rate of PTSD, with almost 20 percent having been diagnosed with PTSD,” the congressman’s office noted. “People with PTSD may feel detached from others and suffer from depression and anxiety. This can lead to problems at home as families of veterans struggle to help loved ones adjust to civilian life. Further research of this disorder, coupled with treatment options, can help better recognize, diagnose and treat those suffering with PTSD.”

“If we want to thank our veterans for putting their lives on the line for our freedoms, we should ensure they lead happy, healthy lives when they return home,” said Waltz.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee where it has lingered since January. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate.

Looking to advance the proposal, Waltz and Luria sent a letter to top leaders in the House, urging the legislation be included in the National Defense Authorization Act.

“Israel, under constant attack from terrorist groups, has experienced similar issues with their veterans and civilian populations facing the symptoms of PTSD. Several leading Israeli hospitals, universities and non-profits have dedicated their efforts to researching and treating PTSD,” Waltz and Luria wrote. “A better understanding of this disorder, along with treatment options, can help us better recognize, diagnose and treat those suffering from traumatic incidents.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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