WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Proceeds from sales of a new postage stamp issued on Monday will go to support post-traumatic stress disorder research and education at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD.
The PTSD center, based at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, includes seven sites around the country that are focused on studying and treating PTSD, a mental health condition some people develop following a traumatic event such as combat, a natural disaster, sexual assault or a car accident. Symptoms may include reliving the event, avoidance of reminders of the event, negative thoughts and anxiety that linger long after the trauma.
While Paula Schnurr, the PTSD center’s executive director, said she is glad to have the revenue stream to support the center’s work, she also hopes the stamp brings awareness to the condition, which will affect tens of millions people in the U.S. — both veterans and civilians — in their lifetimes.
Schnurr said she hopes “people who have PTSD or family members see this and they might take some action.”
She spoke in a phone interview from Charlotte, N.C., where she participated in an event to celebrate the stamp’s release on Monday.
The stamp, which costs 65 cents, features a green plant sprouting from ground covered with fallen leaves that is intended to symbolize the PTSD healing process, according to a news release from the Postal Service. It was designed by Greg Breeding, the postal service’s art director, and includes original photography by Mark Laita, a Los Angeles-based commercial photographer.
Treatment for PTSD both through medication and therapy has improved in recent years, Schnurr said, noting that some of the center’s research is focused on the effectiveness of different treatments.
Public awareness of PTSD has grown following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, which caused many first responders and others to develop the condition, she said. Subsequent events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and numerous mass shootings — including one earlier this year at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, the city where Monday’s stamp ceremony took place — have kept the condition in the public eye.
In addition to Schnurr, speakers at Monday’s event at McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square also included representatives from the American Red Cross, The American Veteran Foundation, the Wounded Warriors Project and the Charlotte Chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Among the speakers was Chuck Denny, the founder of The American Veteran Foundation based in North Carolina, who was a major proponent of the PTSD stamp, in honor of his father, Garland Denny, who served in the Navy in the Korean War and, before his death in 2015, advocated for a stamp to raise money for veteran services.
“The Postal Service is honored to issue this semipostal stamp as a powerful symbol of the healing process, growth and hope for tens of millions of Americans who experience PTSD,” David C. Williams, vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service, said in a news release. “Today, with the issuance of this stamp, the nation renews its commitment to raise funds to help treat soldiers, veterans, first responders, health care providers and other individuals dealing with this condition.”
The price of the stamp includes the cost of a first-class stamp at the time of purchase — which is 55 cents currently — and an amount to fund PTSD research. They are available at post offices around the country, through an online shop at usps.com/shop or by calling 800-STAMP24. Sheets of 20 can be purchased for $13.
Congress, through the Semipostal Authorization Act, allows the Postal Service to issue and sell “semipostal” stamps to benefit causes that are “in the national public interest and appropriate.”
Revenue from sales of the Healing PTSD stamp — less the cost of postage and reasonable costs incurred by the Postal Service — will go to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Postal Service sells each semipostal stamp for two years. An Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp, issued on Nov. 30, 2017, was the first launched through the program.
Causes for subsequent semipostal stamps have not yet been determined, but suggestions can be sent to the Office of Stamp Services, Attn: Semipostal Discretionary Program, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, DC 20260-3501 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be found online at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/.
Valley News Staff Writer Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3213.