The Chicago Tribune reports an increase in the number of post traumatic stress disorder injuries suffered by military personnel in Iraq, coinciding with the “surge” in troop strength. This is doubly tragic for our brave vets — they suffer terrible injuries, and then we mistreat them by failing to provide proper diagnosis and treatment in our medical facilities. Predictions are that there will be a huge increase in the number of applications for veterans disability benefits in the next few years. Here are excerpts from the article:
Nearly 14,000 U.S. service members who had previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan were newly diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder last year, according to statistics released today by Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker.
The detailed figures for the four military services shows about a 46 percent increase in the number of troops diagnosed with PTSD in 2007–a spike that coincided with the most violent year of the Iraq war. Overall, nearly 40,000 have been diagnosed with the illness since 2003, though it is likely many more haven’t sought help out of fear of being stigmatized.
“I think we can say as a nation that our mental health facilities and access to mental health providers is not adequate to the need right now,” Schoomaker said. “So part of the problem that we as a military are suffering is a shared national problem.”
Last month, the RAND Corporation published a study that showed nearly 300,000 U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were suffering major depression or symptoms of post traumatic stress.
The RAND study found that only about half of those suffering PTSD or depression seek help. The Pentagon has estimated that about 15 to 20 percent of returning troops suffer from symptoms of post traumatic stress.