Seth Moulton talks about PTSD, mental health, Iraq

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In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Moulton, who served four tours with the Marines in Iraq, publicly revealed a compelling story from one of the first days of the Iraq invasion.

“The Marines just a few hundred yards ahead of us shot up some cars and buses that they thought were full of enemy troops. But at least one car was an Iraqi family, just fleeing the violence,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “There is a boy, probably about five years old, lying in the middle of the road, wounded and writhing in pain.”

Seth Moulton, who has struggled with post-traumatic stress, unveils mental health plan

“At that moment, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my entire life, which was to drive around that boy and keep pressing the attack because the stop would have stopped the entire battalion’s advance. It would have endangered the lives of dozens, if not hundreds, of Marines,” he said. “But there is nothing I wanted to do more at that moment than just get out of my armored vehicle and help that little kid.”

Moulton said that scene has stuck with him long beyond the war, telling Tapper, “There was a time when I got back from the war when I couldn’t get through a day without thinking about that 5-year-old boy, leaving him in the middle of the road.”

“I’ll remember his face ’til the day that I die.”

Moulton unveiled a new plan to improve mental health coverage this week aimed at improving access to mental health services for veterans and students. The proposal calls routine mental health checkups for active duty military and veterans, as well as increasing the mental health budget and hiring more health professionals at the Department of Defense.

His plan would fund yearly mental health screenings for all high school students and add mental wellness training exercises like yoga and meditation to high school physical education curriculums. It would also create a National Mental Health Crisis Hotline to help veterans and civilians alike.

While stories like that day in Iraq still haunt him, Moulton said he feels he has gained back control with the help of a therapist.

“After I got back from the war, there were times when I woke up with cold sweats when I had had flashbacks, have bad dreams,” he said. “I decided to go talk to someone to see a therapist. And now those issues are under control. Now I control when I want to think about these things.”

“They’re still very emotional. They’ll stay with me for the rest of my life. But I have a handle on them.”

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