Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
04/14/2016 08:30 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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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.