December 10, 2007 – NIU journalism major Ilona Meagher will testify Wednesday in front of a U.S. congressional committee.
The hearing will discuss health care options for veterans and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. within the veteran committee, a topic Meagher has become a recognized expert on. Meagher’s book on the topic, “Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America’s Returning Troops,” was published in May 2007.
“I never would have even dreamed that I’d be asked to testify,” Meagher said.
The hearing will specifically discuss the recent studies released over the past couple months.
The first, a study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, shows that one in four homeless adults are U.S. veterans.
The second, a CBS News report, determined that the suicide rate among veterans is double that of the general public.
“I’m just hoping to do very well for everybody, as I’ve had a lot people help me along the way,” she said. “It’s really an honor to represent regular American citizens and to represent a part of people doing some great work.”
Meagher is also helping to shape the hearing agenda at the request of Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA).
“It’s a very humbling experience,” Meagher said in an NIU press release. “I see myself representing other concerned Americans who, after hearing of the reintegration difficulties of some of our returning troops and veterans, may find themselves saying, ‘We can do better by them.’”
Meagher, a 41-year-old former flight attendant, began collecting media reports of combat-related PTSD incidents in 2005 after viewing a news account of veterans of Iraq who had committed suicide.
“Being called to testify is the grand culmination of two years of steady work on this issue for me,” Meagher said in the release. “To have the chance to advocate for our military families and perhaps move the issues that are important to them forward is a great return on the time I’ve invested.”
Editor’s Note: Ilona Meagher also contributes to the Northern Star as a columnist.
Ilona Meagher has an online blog tracking her research of PTSD. To learn more, visit ptsdcombat.blogspot.com.