Addressing the challenges of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) is not an easy feat. Through over 30 years of service with the Ohio National Guard, I have had the opportunity to personally get to know individuals affected by PTS.

I am committed to ensuring these courageous men and women have the access to the treatment they need to heal — both physically and mentally.

Throughout June, our nation comes together to recognize National PTS Awareness Month. As individuals continue to join our nation’s armed forces, and as awareness of PTS grows, it is crucial that we continue researching and finding solutions to fight against and prevent PTS.

Currently, I am one of 96 veterans in Congress, spanning every branch of the military. Our unique experiences allow us to share the common goal of helping our veterans get the resources they need, and we frequently hear from veterans about the issues that matter to them. Many of them highlighted the desire to find solutions for the effects that follow combat, including PTS.

That is exactly why I recently introduced the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act, or the PAWS Act. This will close a loophole to allow veterans suffering from mental illness to benefit from a service dog. With a bipartisan coalition, I am also working to create a work-therapy program, where the veterans who suffer from PTS work to train the dogs for service, and by training the dogs, help alleviate their mental health symptoms.

Through my time in the service, I have personally met veterans whose lives have been dramatically improved through working with a dog. But this goes beyond anecdotal evidence; research by Kaiser Permanente has shown that veterans who work with dogs show fewer symptoms of PTS and depression, have better interpersonal relationships, a lowered risk of substance abuse, and better overall mental health.

We cannot turn our backs on those who put their lives on the line. About 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans and about 11-20 percent of Veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are affected by PTS. As a result, bipartisan efforts are needed to find treatments and advancements. These may not completely eradicate PTS, but they will take strides to improve the lives of veterans nationwide.

If you have any questions about what I am working on regarding PTS, or any other issue facing the federal government, I invite you to contact my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2015, Hilliard office at 614-771-4968, Lancaster office at 740-654-2654, or Wilmington office at 937-283-7049. You can also subscribe to my e-newsletter at www.stivers.house.gov.

Congressman Steve Stivers writes a weekly column published in The Perry County Tribune. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.

Load comments