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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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History of the National Center for PTSD


History of the National Center for PTSD

Congressional Mandate

The National Center for PTSD was created in 1989 within the Department of Veterans Affairs in response to a Congressional mandate (PL 98-528) to address the needs of Veterans and other trauma survivors with PTSD. The Center was developed with the ultimate purpose to improve the well-being, status and understanding of Veterans in American society.

The mandate called for a center of excellence that would set the agenda for research and education on PTSD without direct responsibility for patient care. Convinced that no single VA site could adequately serve this unique mission, VA established the Center as a consortium of 5 divisions.

Organization of the Center

The Center now consists of 6 VA academic centers of excellence across the U.S., with headquarters in White River Junction, VT. Other divisions are located in Boston, MA; West Haven, CT; and Palo Alto, CA, and each contributes to the overall Center mission through specific areas of focus

The National Center for PTSD is an integral and valued component of VA's Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, which itself is within the Veterans Health Administration. The National Center for PTSD receives important budget support from VA, although the Center also leverages this support through successful competition for extramural research funding.

Impact of Scientific and Clinical Interest in PTSD

Scientific and clinical interest in PTSD has grown exponentially since the Center opened in 1989. Trauma and PTSD are recognized as major public health problems. PTSD is a behavioral health problem for military Veterans and active-duty personnel subject to the traumatic stress of war, dangerous peacekeeping operations and interpersonal violence.

Moreover, due to the surprisingly high prevalence of assault, rape, child abuse, disaster and severe accidental and violent trauma in the civilian arena, PTSD is a serious public health problem in the general population. It is estimated that PTSD affects about 6 out of every 100 (or 6%) of Americans at some point in their lives.

The Center has emerged as the leading center of excellence in research and education on PTSD. We will continue to uphold our mission to advance the clinical care and social welfare of America's Veterans and others who have experienced trauma, or who suffer from PTSD.

Recommended Reading

Friedman, M. J. (2012). The National Center for PTSD. In T. W. Miller (Ed.), The Praeger Handbook of Veterans Health: History, Challenges, Issues, and Developments (Vol. 4; 95-127). Praeger. PTSDpubs ID: 41523

PTSD Information Voice Mail: (802) 296-6300
Also see: VA Mental Health