National Commitment to Our Military Heroes: Prioritizing Mental Healthcare

Now is an ideal time to renew our timeless national commitment to our military heroes’ health and well being. Working together, we can help improve the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for us.

In 2014, June was designated as National PTSD Awareness Month to raise public awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and encourage those affected to seek treatment. As members of the military are often at higher risk for developing PTSD, this is a poignant opportunity for reflection and renewed collective commitment to improve the lives of those who protect our country.

Fundamental to this time-honored national commitment is the universal recognition that the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform and their families may have far-reaching, lifelong implications to health and well being. This is particularly true regarding treating the often invisible, but increasingly prevalent, behavioral health needs of active duty military and veterans.

Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment

The missions performed by our service members continue to pose unique and serious challenges to those in uniform and their loved ones. During the past decade, increased investment in research and education, often headed by military and VA clinicians, has resulted in promising advances in diagnosis and treatment. Similarly, we have seen improved public recognition that combat stress, PTSD, depression, anxiety and substance abuse are genuine medical conditions for which no one should be ashamed to seek support and treatment.

These issues strike a chord with me personally. My own military service experience resulted in lifelong friendships and instilled invaluable lessons on leadership, the importance of teamwork and giving back to my community. I was and remain determined to seek opportunities to give back to our service members and veterans who have given us so much.

Patriot Support Program

Over the past decade, UHS has expanded its collaborations with military leaders and behavioral health experts, including the establishment of the UHS Patriot Support Program (UHS). This initiative was born out of a shared objective and to complement the great work being supported through the Department of Defense, Defense Health Agency, Tricare and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Learn more about the UHS Patriot Support Program >

The Patriot Support Centers of Excellence provide specialized care to service members in a completely dedicated treatment environment. In most instances, the treatment professionals and staff of these programs have either served in the military or have been committed to the culture and service in some other capacity. Patriot Support Service Centers provide specialized care in programs that also may provide treatment to civilians in a common treatment environment. Centers of Excellence and Service Centers maintain close communications with leadership at installations served with the common goal being to return service members to duty with honor and dignity.

The Patriot Support Program and similar initiatives of our industry peers represent just a few examples of how companies and individuals can make a difference in supporting the military and VA in addressing the behavioral health needs of our service members and their families. I encourage individuals to consider volunteering and/or making a donation to a local VA or military support organization. Take the time to say “thank you for your service” when you see someone in uniform. Let them know how much their service means to our country and to you personally.

In advance of our Fourth of July holiday, now is an ideal time to renew our timeless national commitment to military heroes’ health and well being. Working together, we can help improve the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for us.

Alan B. Miller is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Universal Health Services, Inc., a Fortune 500 hospital and healthcare management company. He served for 6 years as a commissioned Army reserve officer in the 77th Infantry Division.

This article was originally published by Panama City News Herald