Speeches, Remarks, & Interviews
Ambassador Foley's Press Statement on Combating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Croatia
July 12. 2012 - Press Statement as delivered
- First, thank you, all of you, for coming here to join us this afternoon. Mr. Minister, thank you for your kind words. Mr. Assistant Minister -- I am joined by both the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs and the Ministry of Health. And I’d also like to thank my hosts here at Rebro, Director Giljevic and Professor Jakovljevic, for their kind hospitality.
- The reason I am here is that when I met with Minister Matic a few months ago, we discussed the problem of PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – which is a major challenge facing Croatia. It is now twenty years old - since the Homeland War. And he suggested that perhaps our two countries could cooperate in this area. And I said inside Rebro a few minutes ago, if our Croatian friends had asked the United States for our assistance or our cooperation in this area fifteen years ago - twenty years ago - we would have had very little to offer. Very little.
- It is only, unfortunately, as a result of the major military engagements we had to be involved in over the last ten years that we have had to come to grips as a country with this terrible affliction. Over half a million U.S. troops have been examined and have, to one degree or another, been affected by PTSD. It used to be a tremendous taboo. And it still is something that we struggle to come to terms with, but there has been tremendous progress. And we have come to learn that the failure to identify the problem, the failure to treat the problem, leads to not only individual tragedies, but social tragedies. Because those who suffer from it, suffer from feelings of depression, fear, helplessness; and this has consequences, also, for their families, and for the wider society. So we have had to, in the United States, confront it honestly.
- And thanks to the attention given to this problem, thanks to the science that has been applied to this problem, we have come to the conclusion that it not only possible to treat PTSD, but it is possible to cure it such that those who suffer form it are reintegrated into society and into the workplace. And so I am very grateful to Admiral Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, whom I contacted immediately after I met with Minister Matic a few months ago. Because of the close partnership between the United States and Croatia in NATO, which he values so highly, he instantly responded positively. And so we have had today two experts from the U.S. European Command – Lt. Col. Hartzell and Captain Payne – who have been here working with their Croatian counterparts. And their conclusion is that the Croatian professionals are outstanding, and grappling with this difficult problem. And that they are receptive to the sharing of new insights and new experiences.
- And so we hope that out of their visit this week we can continue the cooperation and support the efforts of Minister Matic and of the Ministry of Health in their efforts to bring new methodologies to treating this treatable affliction. And we also have experts back in Washington from different U.S. government agencies - from our Department of Veterans’ Affairs, from our Department of Defense, our Department of Health and Human Services, our National Institutes of Health – who have via remote video conferences already been in discussion with their Croatian counterparts.
- So, although, as the Minister said, I am leaving Croatia shortly, I am very confident that this is just the beginning of our important cooperation in this area, and I thank you again, all of you, for your very kind hospitality. Thank you.