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Remarks by the Vice President to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence Staff and Patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland

June 28, 2019

Well, thank you. And would you all join me in giving a big round of applause to Captain Greenhalgh for the great work he does here? Thank you. (Applause.)

I want to thank Captain Greenhalgh. I want to thank Colonel Gonzalez. But, mostly, I just came here in the presence of these two members of the United States Senate — one Republican and one Democrat — to say that all of the American people are grateful for the work that you do here at the Intrepid Center for Excellence.

Today is National PTSD Awareness Day, and today the American people recognize that there are some 500,000 veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

There was a time more than 10 years ago that we failed to recognize these challenges. But I'm so proud that here at Walter Reed, where we give America's best to America's best, that we are leaning into this effort and really setting the pace.

I'm also very encouraged, Captain, to learn that the National Intrepid Center for Excellence is being replicated at bases around the country.

It is important, as we see to the physical needs of men and women who have worn the uniform and gone into harm's way, that we deal every bit as much with the emotional and psychological and mental challenges that they carry home. The invisible wounds scar our veterans almost as much as the physical wounds. And we're recognizing that as a nation.

And for my part, and on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief — who I just spoke to a few moments ago — I came here to say thank-you on National PTSD Awareness Day. Thank you for what you're doing to really come alongside to provide innovative therapies and treatments to our veterans. You're making an incredible difference.

The men and women who have put their lives on the line for us are benefiting by the care that they're receiving here at the Intrepid Center and, frankly, at facilities like this all over the country.

I want to thank Senator Manchin and Senator Sullivan for their singular leadership on this issue. Both of them serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee and have brought a resolution to the floor of the Senate today, which recognizes National PTSD Awareness Day. And join me in thanking both of these senators for their great leadership to our veterans. (Applause.)

In addition to saying thank-you to all of you, we're simply here to send a word out to anyone who has worn the uniform of the United States, who's struggling with or thinks you may be struggling with PTSD, to say, "There's help." Help is available. And the American people are here to stand with you.

We're far past the time of a stigma being associated with the emotional or psychological scars that are left by those who serve in combat. And to any of those within the sound of my voice, or their family members, who sense that that veteran who lives with them or that service member who lives with them is struggling with PTSD, we ask you to talk with them. Talk to them.

And to our veterans and to our members of the service, talk to your loved ones, talk to your caregivers, and know that we're going to be redoubling our efforts to make sure that just as in places like Walter Reed, we see to the physical needs of those who have served and defended our nation, that we will continue to redouble our efforts to meet the emotional needs of those who have stepped up and counted our lives more valuable than their own.

It's particularly moving to me, as I walked around today and talked to some of these courageous service members who are here — we could give them a round of applause, the folks who have been with us (inaudible). (Applause.) It's the strong men and women who proved it again by coming here to the Intrepid Center and having the courage to confront the challenges and burdens that they face.

But as I said before, it was a different time in days past. My dad was a combat veteran in the Korean War. And it wasn't until I became an adult that my mother shared with us that, for the first 10 years of their marriage, my dad struggled: Woke up in the middle of the night. Then, we didn't understand it. But to those that are struggling with PTSD, just know that we understand now. We're here for you, and we're here to help.

So with that, finally, just thank you to all the caregivers who are here. I love it when I come to Walter Reed because I really do know that I'm meeting America's best caregivers giving your best to our finest every day. And so thank you for your service to the country. Thank you for your service to those who serve. And just God bless you as you continue the great, great work here at the Intrepid Center for Excellence. Thank you all. (Applause.)

Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence Staff and Patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/334201

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