Democratic presidential candidate Seth Moulton is highlighting his plan to improve mental health care in the United States, particularly for veterans, by revealing his own struggles with post-traumatic stress.
Moulton, a Massachusetts congressman and Iraq War veteran, said Tuesday at a town hall in Lynn that he started seeing a therapist after returning home from the war. He said one memory that has stayed with him is driving past an injured Iraqi boy lying in the middle of the road without stopping to help him. He said stopping to take care of the child would have endangered the lives of his entire platoon.
The image of that boy, he said, is "something that haunted me every single day when I came home. Frankly, every single day that I was there."
Moulton said he can't put into words how much therapy has helped him.
"I'll be haunted by the image of that boy until the day that I die. But now I control what I think of," he said. "I don't think about it every single day. I can choose moments like this to bring it up."
Moulton's mental health plan would require annual mental health checkups for active-duty military and veterans, fund yearly mental health screenings for every high school student, and establish a national mental health crisis hotline.
Moulton said he would also double the number of Defense Department mental health professionals and boost the mental health budget by $500 million.
"Even as we recognize and celebrate the talents and achievements of military veterans, we must also acknowledge that we have asked them to shoulder an enormous burden on our behalf," he said in a written statement.
This article was originally published on May 29, 2019.