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ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 23, 2012 -- During the final presidential debate, in the war of words between President Obama and Governor Romney over U.S. foreign and military policy, there were three brief references to America's veterans.
Only once was traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) specifically mentioned.
"One of the terrible costs of war is mental illness," said Michael J. Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). "It is part of the calculation every voter needs to make about war and peace."
"Too often, debate over Afghanistan and the Middle East or the defense budget occurs only in abstract terms. But it is also important to think about the human terms."
Earlier this year, NAMI released a special report Parity for Patriots: The Mental Health Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families, which outlined some of the human costs:
"The debates ignored important dimensions and distinctions about mental health care within broader issues," Fitzpatrick said. "That is not necessarily a surprise, but it still is a disappointment."
"The challenge between now and Election Day is for individuals and families affected by mental illness, and their friends, to keep working to raise mental health issues with congressional, state and local candidates and to encourage all voters to consider them in making decisions between candidates."
NAMI's non-partisan Mental Health Care Gets My Vote campaign advocates the following priorities:
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness.