2020 candidate and Marine Corps veteran Seth Moulton reveals his experience with PTS, unveils new mental health proposal

Lucian Read/SethMoulton.com1st Lt. Seth Moulton, second from the left, during a battle in Najaf, Iraq, August 2004.
  • Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a Democratic candidate in the 2020 US presidential election, unveiled a plan to combat post-traumatic stress in the military.
  • Moulton revealed he sought mental health services following his deployments to Iraq.
  • “Today, I’m sharing my experience because I want people to know they’re not alone and they should feel empowered to get the treatment they need,” he said to POLITICO.
  • Moulton’s plan comes amid record-high suicide rates amongst active-duty service members.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a Democratic candidate in the 2020 US presidential election, unveiled a plan to combat post-traumatic stress in the military and revealed he sought mental health services following his deployments to Iraq.

Moulton, a retired US Marine Corps infantry officer, deployed four times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He fought in two major battles in the Iraq War and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal with accompanying “V” devices for valor.

“When I came back from Iraq I sought help for managing post-traumatic stress. I’m glad I did,” Moulton said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Today, I’m sharing my experience because I want people to know they’re not alone and they should feel empowered to get the treatment they need.”

His experience overseas led him to seek counseling at least once a week, Moulton said to POLITICO.

“I had some particular experiences or regrets from the war that I just thought about every day, and occasionally I’d have bad dreams or wake up in a cold sweat,” Moulton told the publication. “But because these experiences weren’t debilitating – I didn’t feel suicidal or completely withdrawn – it took me a while to appreciate that I was dealing with post-traumatic stress, and I was dealing with an experience that a lot of other veterans have.”

Read more: Meet the Iraq War veteran and presidential candidate who wants to carry on John McCain’s legacy of public service for a new generation

He continues to sees a counselor once a month for a routine check-up, and he said “there will always be regrets that I have.”

“But I got to a point where I could deal with them and manage them,” he continued in his interview with POLITICO. “It’s been a few years now since I’ve woken up in a cold sweat in bed from a bad dream or felt so withdrawn from my friends or whatever that I would just go home and go to bed because I miss being overseas with the Marines.”

Moulton’s proposal calls for a wide range of changes to diagnosing and treating service members’ mental health – including annual mental health check-ups for service members and veterans, “mandatory counseling” within the first two weeks of service members returning from combat, a program for families of veterans to recognises symptoms, an exploration of alternative medicines like marijuana at Veterans Affairs hospitals, and the creation of a National Mental Health Crisis Hotline.

The plan comes amid record-high suicide rates amongst active-duty service members – over 320 service members died by suicide in 2018, according to Military.com. On average, 20 veterans and service members kill themselves each day, according to the latest data from the VA.

His plan also tackles mental health awareness for the general population, and would institute health screenings for high schoolers and education on healthy mental health habits.

“We’re aiming this week to highlight the effects of PTS in the lives of many veterans, including in [Rep. Moulton’s] own experience, and rolling out a plan to address PTS both for veterans and non-veterans alike,” a campaign spokesperson told INSIDER.

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