Kennedy: nation's job to help troops with mental illness

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Congressman Patrick Kennedy says mental illness in military personnel needs to become a national priority.

He says a new Department of Defense study finds more active duty members of the military are killing themselves than dying on the battlefield. Kennedy says the stigma needs to be lifted when it comes to mental illnesses.

"If you've been in harm's way long enough and cortisol has been pumping into your brain because of the fight or flight response, that changes your brain structure," says Kennedy. "That is a physical change, that is a casualty of war, that is a combat wound."

Kennedy made the comment during a discussion at the National Guard headquarters centered on the military and mental illness.

A 2008 Rand study finds nearly a third of men and a quarter of women returning from deployment suffer from PTSD.

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