Army fears surge

in mental health problems among soldiers when they return from deployment. Fifteen thousand are returning from the combat zone in a few months and many of them have been out there as many as four times. The army is worried it might be overwhelmed by the mental problems of the returnees. My question: didn't they have these problems in Iraq and why weren't they diagnosed there where the damage occurred?

It seems we have potentially unbalanced and damaged soldiers carrying weapons and dealing with civilians and fellow soldiers on a day-to-day basis in Iraq, but they have to return to this country to be diagnosed for their problems. We have plenty of money to spend on gee-wiz weapons and the latest gadgets of warfare but little to spend on the person wearing the uniform. They should not have to wait until their deployment out of the war zone to be treated. The army should take a close look at its procedures of evaluating people subjected to IED and other types of warefare.
Some 15,000 soldiers are heading home to this sprawling base after spending more than a year at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military health officials are bracing for a surge in brain injuries and psychological problems among those troops.

Facing prospects that one in five of the 101st Airborne Division soldiers will suffer from stress-related disorders, the base has nearly doubled its psychological health staff. Army leaders are hoping to use the base's experiences to assess the long-term impact of repeated deployments.

Noting that some soldiers in the 101st Airborne units have been to war four or five times, Chiarelli said he is most worried the military will not be able to find enough health care providers to deal effectively with the troops needing assistance.

More than 63,600 active duty Army soldiers have done three or more tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. That is a nearly 12 percent of the total number of soldiers who have deployed at least once. Roughly four in 10 soldiers who have gone to war have served more than one deployment - and that number is growing steadily.

No votes yet

The Army is worried about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and not so much of what was commonly referred to as "Combat Fatigue". Since the Korean War a lot of study and effective in theater controls have reduced combat fatigue to almost non-existent levels.

PTSD however commonly shows up after the event. I remember reading this was on average of 10 months to 2 years afterward. That is why it can't be diagnosed in theater.

A large problem in the lack of treatment comes that most soldiers opt for a tour shortly before getting out. The tax free added money they get allows them to have a "nest egg" which aids them in transition from military life to civilian life. My brother did this exact thing right before getting out a year ago.

How this is a problem when the symptoms begin hitting the military member is either away from military service and thus military doctors or back in country for another tour. Being back in country has an effect of reverting them back to their prior survival mindset and the affects of PTSD are covered up by their need to survive and thus goes undiagnosed.

Now that the rotation is slowing and less combat units are needed in the deployment cycle the Army is expecting more diagnosed cases.

A great book on the affects of survival, killing, and PTSD, is On Killing by LtCol David Grossman, a career soldier and psychologist who now heads up the military science dept of the U of Arkansas. He is the premier source of combat and it's affects on the human psyche for military study.



Why doesn't the Army recognize that certain kinds of attacks and explosions lead to brain trauma and that we should perform on the spot evaluations in theater? We are beginning to realize that IEDs and other devices are causing subtle brain damage that cause behavior problems months or years later. We should be evaluating each soldier involved in any such incident soon after the event. We've got marvelous medical technology to do a lot of this. I think we are just shrugging it off in order to get each solder back on the line as soon as possible.

Well the military medicine is free and I guess you get what you pay for. Plus for an added bonus in military medicine there's no such thing as malpractice.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.