Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

04/14/2016 08:30 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Note Time --
+= HB 126 CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE; APPEALS TELECONFERENCED
Moved SCS CSHB 126(STA) Out of Committee
+ HJR 30 POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS INJURY TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHJR 30(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              HJR 30-POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS INJURY                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:07:54 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STOLTZE called the committee back to order and announced                                                                  
the consideration of HJR 30.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:08:17 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE BOB HERRON, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                                    
Alaska, sponsor of HJR 30, read the following sponsor statement:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Before  us today  is  an  issue that  covers  a lot  of                                                                    
     people,  post-traumatic stress;  it does  have a  label                                                                    
     and  this  resolution  asks   people  to  continue  the                                                                    
     conversation about maybe changing the label.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     One thing that  has recently hit me hard  is the ripple                                                                    
     effects of  post-traumatic stress and that  is a parent                                                                    
     that has  experienced a  traumatic experience  and then                                                                    
     they  come  home;  the children  of  that  parent  have                                                                    
     experiences  related  to  what has  happened  to  their                                                                    
     parent. Of  course post-traumatic stress can  come from                                                                    
     any  traumatic  experience   including  combat,  sexual                                                                    
     assault, torture, child abuse  and others. The symptoms                                                                    
     are  flashbacks, nightmares  and insomnia.  One of  the                                                                    
     issues  that hits  especially veterans  is thoughts  of                                                                    
     suicide.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Hundreds of thousands of  American service members have                                                                    
     been diagnosed  with post-traumatic stress  disorder or                                                                    
     injury and  they estimate that  at least  eight million                                                                    
     Americans   suffer  from   post-traumatic  stress.   In                                                                    
     Alaska, 18,000 combat service  veterans and 8,000 still                                                                    
     in uniform suffer from post-traumatic stress.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     This  resolution  asks  that the  American  Psychiatric                                                                    
     Association  consider changing  "post-traumatic stress"                                                                    
     to  "post-traumatic   stress  injury"  in   their  next                                                                    
     revision  in  their  manual,   urges  the  governor  to                                                                    
     support  the usage  of "post-traumatic  stress injury,"                                                                    
     request  the congressional  delegation  to continue  to                                                                    
     champion the  change in  Congress, designates  June 27,                                                                    
     2016  as  "Post-Traumatic  Injury Awareness  Day,"  and                                                                    
     encourages  the Department  of  Military and  Veterans'                                                                    
     Affairs  and  the  Department   of  Health  and  Social                                                                    
     Services to continue post-traumatic injury programs.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:11:05 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON detailed the effects on children as                                                                       
follows:                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The  ripple  effects  of post-traumatic  stress  really                                                                    
     tugs  at  your  heart  because the  three  most  common                                                                    
     effects of post-traumatic stress  on children are: they                                                                    
     start  experiencing it,  the child  starts assuming  an                                                                    
     adult   role    to   compensate   for    the   parent's                                                                    
     difficulties, and then children  in these homes receive                                                                    
     little  emotional   support  from  the   parent;  these                                                                    
     children   are  prone   to:  depression,   anxiety  and                                                                    
     difficulties  at   school.  The   stress-related  anger                                                                    
     issues  can  be  a  problem and  really  challenge  the                                                                    
     parent-child   relationship.    These   children   have                                                                    
     symptoms that include: tantrums,  getting in fights and                                                                    
     increased   drug   and   alcohol  use.   The   Veterans                                                                    
     Administration  does  have  family  services  that  can                                                                    
     help.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Historical  references  from  time immemorial  is  that                                                                    
     people  expressed post-traumatic  stress  in books  and                                                                    
     even  Shakespeare  has   written  about  post-traumatic                                                                    
     stress.  The disorder  is a  label and  this resolution                                                                    
     asks that we continue  to talk about it. Battle-fatigue                                                                    
     was used during World War  II, shell-shock in World War                                                                    
     I; but,  this resolution  doesn't talk about  the label                                                                    
     more than it's about removing the stigma.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     In the resolution, which was  an amendment by a veteran                                                                    
     who chaired House State Affairs,  Bob Lynn, this is not                                                                    
     about  changing  the  criteria of  receiving  a  Purple                                                                    
     Heart,  it has  nothing  to do  with  that, it's  about                                                                    
     changing the stigma.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:13:26 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON addressed the stigma with post-traumatic                                                                  
stress as follows:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Post-traumatic  stress carries  a  stigma  when it  has                                                                    
     this  label  of "disorder."  The  stigma  is that  it's                                                                    
     untreatable, in  fact it is  a treatable  injury. Post-                                                                    
     traumatic  stress has  historically  been  viewed as  a                                                                    
     mental  illness caused  by a  pre-existing  flaw in  an                                                                    
     individual's  brain   or  character,  but   the  stigma                                                                    
     discourages people not to seek treatment.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     This resolution is to make  people more aware of it and                                                                    
     the likelihood  that whether you  are a  combat veteran                                                                    
     or you  had a  traumatic experience  like a  car crash,                                                                    
     sexual assault  or child abuse,  is that  people should                                                                    
     seek help. With treatment  that's proper and timely, we                                                                    
     can  reduce outcomes  and one  of the  biggest outcomes                                                                    
     that's  been  documented  is people  taking  their  own                                                                    
     lives.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE opened public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:15:17 AM                                                                                                                   
FAITH  MYERS, volunteer  and  mental-health advocate,  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska,  testified  in  support  of  HJR  30.  She  detailed  her                                                               
experience and  own struggle  with post-traumatic  stress injury.                                                               
She  set froth  that post-traumatic  stress  was a  long road  to                                                               
recovery, but  treatable where a  person can recover  from trauma                                                               
to the brain. She asserted that the term "injury" provides hope.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:16:30 AM                                                                                                                   
BOB  DOEHL,  Deputy  Commissioner,  Department  of  Military  and                                                               
Veteran  Affairs, JBER,  Alaska,  testified  that the  department                                                               
supported HJR 30. He set forth  that HJR 30 addresses a condition                                                               
that  affects  thousands of  Alaskans.  He  revealed that  57,000                                                               
veterans have  seen combat and  as many  as 30 percent  or 17,000                                                               
Alaskan  veterans  were likely  to  suffer  from some  degree  of                                                               
combat  post-traumatic  stress.  He  said  post-traumatic  stress                                                               
injury  affects family  members  as well  due  to the  subsequent                                                               
disruption of daily life. He  remarked that post-traumatic stress                                                               
injury takes  a devastating toll  and continues  to do so  if not                                                               
treated. He  revealed that many  victims cannot hold down  a job,                                                               
become estranged or  lose their lives. He asserted  that the term                                                               
"disorder" may make sense to  clinicians, but implies a deviation                                                               
from normal  and exasperates a stigma  that discourages diagnosis                                                               
and  treatment. He  specified that  post-traumatic stress  injury                                                               
does  not arise  from  a genetic  condition,  personal values  or                                                               
decisions,  but as  a result  of an  externally imposed  event or                                                               
events. He  set forth that  changing from "disorder"  to "injury"                                                               
makes it clear that the appropriate action was treatment.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE  closed public  testimony on HJR  30 and  asked the                                                               
will of the committee.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL moved  to report  the  CS for  HJR 30(STA)  from                                                               
committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached  zero                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:20:21 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STOLTZE announced that hearing  no objection, CSHJR 30(STA)                                                               
moved from committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MCGUIRE  thanked Representative  Herron for  bringing the                                                               
legislation forward as  a veteran on behalf of the  men and women                                                               
that  have been  experiencing post-traumatic  stress injury.  She                                                               
commended  Representative Herron  for  redefining  the issue  and                                                               
educating members  of the Legislature  about it. She  stated that                                                               
there was  so much that was  not understood, not just  with post-                                                               
traumatic stress,  but with mental-health diseases  and disorders                                                               
in general.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS  commented that Representative Herron  was by far                                                               
the most  active members of the  veterans' caucus and HJR  30 was                                                               
the sort of thing that comes out of his efforts.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:22:52 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON  revealed that  he  had  the privilege  of                                                               
speaking  at  the Chris  Kyle  Patriots  Hospital ribbon  cutting                                                               
ceremony  in  Anchorage. He  detailed  that  Chris Kyle  was  the                                                               
American-sniper  that was  able  to  work through  post-traumatic                                                               
stress  by treatment.  He summarized  that post-traumatic  stress                                                               
was about  people that  are going through  a very  difficult time                                                               
and the awareness of post-traumatic stress is very important.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE thanked Representative Herron.