Health Care System Puts Troops at RiskAssociated Press | May 04, 2007
WASHINGTON - The military is putting already-strained troops at greater risk of mental health problems because of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, a Pentagon panel said Thursday in warning of an overburdened health system.
(MG) and in present day warfare, guerrilla wars waged against innocent civilians in countries that never asked us to be there, the daily grind of warfare is SO different from "the big one (II)" where troops cannot distinguish friend from foe (face it, at this juncture, they are all opposed to our presence) where troops cannot let their guard down for one minute ... but where mostly it is about waiting ... waiting in anticipation the pressure of battle is ever-present ... these wars of choice take a HUGE psychic toll ... and think about how many of our troops are reservists, and national guardsmen ... these are NOT soldiers who have signed on for this type of never ending battle
Issuing an urgent warning, the Defense Department's Task Force on Mental Health chaired by Navy Surgeon General Donald Arthur said more than one-third of troops and veterans currently suffer from problems such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
(MG) the only even REMOTELY hopeful thing about this article is that post-traumatic stress disorder is now recognized as debilitating ... there were huge debates over PTSD and Viet Nam vets ... because the cost of providing counseling IS so high ... and the costs of not providing counseling ... well, that simply is higher ... and this is the absolute bare bones minimum we need to do for our troops
With an escalating Iraq war, those numbers are expected to worsen, and current staffing and money for military health care won't be able to meet the need, the group said in a preliminary report released Thursday.
"The system of care for psychological health that has evolved in recent decades is not sufficient to meet the needs of today's forces and their beneficiaries, and will not be sufficient to meet the needs in the future," the 14-member group says.Branding Pentagon policies overly conservative and out-of-date, the task force called for more money and a fundamental shift in treatment to focus on prevention and screening - rather than simply relying on Soldiers to come forward on their own.
It cited a significant stigma in which Soldiers believe they would be ridiculed or their careers damaged if they were to acknowledge having problems.
(MG) the taking of a life of another human being is as unnatural an act (for most humans) as can be imagined ... the losing of the life of a soldier-in-arms is devastating ... plus survivor's guilt ... that good 'ole boy "tough it out" attitude causes SO much damage ... when one buries one's feelings, those feelings are buried ALIVE, and they will claw and scratch and fight their way to come out to light, to fresh air .. and WHEN (or if) they finally resurface, there is no guarantee that they will resurface human
The four-page summary of findings, which will be incorporated in a final report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June, comes amid renewed attention on troop and veterans care following recent disclosures of shoddy outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The task force found 38 percent of Soldiers and 31 percent of Marines report psychological concerns such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from deployment.
(MG) traumatic brain damage -- so many more troops SURVIVE head wounds today (than in Viet Nam) because of the rapidity with which they can be flown to specialty hospitals ... many of these troops would have died in wars past
Among members of the National Guard, the figure is much higher - 49 percent - with numbers expected to grow because of repeated deployments.
In recent weeks, several U.S. senators have pointed to problems in the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs' mental health care, citing the Army's Fort Carson in Colorado where some troops have said their pleas for mental health care went unanswered or were met with ridicule.
(MG) it's inbred .. that macho culture
In its report, the task force - which visited 38 military bases in the four armed services within the past year - underscored many of the lawmakers' fears. Without citing specific examples, it said Soldiers too often don't seek the care they need.
Care for family members also needed improvement, the report said.
Many base mental health programs have had to limit their practices to active-duty military, shutting family members out or forcing them to try to access civilian providers through the cooperative program known as TRICARE. But in many places, the list of TRICARE providers is small, inadequate or even incorrect.
Both the VA and the Pentagon in recent weeks have acknowledged a need to improve mental health treatment. Jan Kemp, a VA associate director for education who works on mental health, has estimated there are up to 1,000 suicides a year among veterans within the VA system, and as many as 5,000 a year among all living veterans.
(MG) although there are discrepancies in the reported numbers, I have read that the number of Viet Nam veterans who have committed suicide is greater than the number killed in combat ... there are no memorial walls to the suicides - but they too have given their lives, serving their country
(MG) about one out of five returning troops WHO SHOWED SIGNS of needing mental health care have been referred by Pentagon health care providers ... this is NOT what one would call supporting the troopsA recent investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that just 22 percent of U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who showed signs of PTSD were being referred by Pentagon health care providers for mental health evaluation, citing inconsistent and subjective standards in determining when treatment was needed.