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 five divisions. The Center currently consists of seven 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; Palo Alto, CA; and Honolulu, HI.
The National Center for PTSD is an integral and valued component of the VA's Mental Health Services (MHS), which itself is within the Veterans Health Administration. MHS and the National Center for PTSD receive important budget support from VA, although the National Center also leverages this support through successful competition for extramural research funding.
Scientific and clinical interest in PTSD has grown exponentially in the past 20 years. It is no longer considered an isolated problem for Vietnam Veterans. PTSD is recognized as a major public health problem and 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 more than ten million American children or adults at some point in their lives.
The National Center for PTSD is a world leader in research and education programs focusing on PTSD and other psychological and medical consequences of traumatic stress.