The terrorism and the threats of terrorism that we have faced in recent months have focused a national spotlight on post-traumatic stress disorder - how it can affect and is affecting many of our citizens. The ACNP, with help from Frankie Trull and her team at Policy Directions, organized a timely event to address this important issue. On March 13, 2002 the College hosted a breakfast meeting for members of Congress and their staff. Joe Coyle served as moderator for the meeting. Ken Davis talked about his personal reflections as a Chairman of Psychiatry in New York during the aftermath of the September 11 attack. Rachel Yehuda talked about the scope and prevalence of PTSD from a clinical perspective, and Dennis Charney discussed the neurobiology and mechanisms of the disease and treatment. In addition, Carol North, M.D., a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis, discussed the impact and the importance of research in the PTSD area.
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The tragedy of September 11 resulted in the greatest loss of life of American citizens due to an attack by an enemy in our nation's history. Not since the War of 1812 has our nation's Capitol been attacked as it was on September 11, and never before have members of Congress and their staff faced threats like the recent anthrax contaminated mail. People who work on Capitol Hill are under unprecedented stress because of their own work environment and because of the threat to them personally, yet the rest of the nation looks to them for positive leadership and effective solutions. In education circles, this would be known as a teachable moment. In fact, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for ACNP members to have educated Congress, to have provided very real and tangible help to this important group of people in understanding issues that are not only very personal to them but affect many of their constituents, and to have showcased the incredible wealth of expertise in this College.
In his remarks to the membership at the annual business meeting in December 2001, President Joe Coyle stated that his top priority for 2002 is public policy. That was also one of the top strategic priorities resulting from the SWOT Analysis, membership survey, and strategic planning done by Council over the past two years.
This Congressional Breakfast was one more step along the path to building the ACNP into an organization with national influence on legislation, regulations, and public policy that is similar to the scientific influence for which it is known. In April of 2001, we engaged Policy Directions in Washington to help us to sharpen our goals in this arena and to develop effective strategies and programs to achieve those goals. The Nobel celebration that we hosted in July of 2001 was a great first step towards our objective, which is to establish the ACNP in the minds of Congressional leaders as the source of the best information available in the areas of brain, behavior, and psychotropic drug research. This Congressional Breakfast presented an opportunity to provide a great educational session while further establishing the identity of the ACNP as a uniquely valuable resource.