How is the U.S. handling the psychological needs of returning Iraq vets?

February 22, 2007 | By | 2 Replies More

Not very well, according to this article from Salon.com.  Here’s an excerpt:

Perhaps most troubling, the Army seems bent on denying that the stress of war has caused the soldiers’ mental trauma in the first place. (There is an economic reason for doing so: Mental problems from combat stress can require the Army to pay disability for years.) Soto-Ramirez’s medical records reveal the economical mindset of an Army doctor who evaluated him. “Adequate care and treatment may prevent a claim against the government for PTSD,” wrote a psychologist in Puerto Rico before sending him to Walter Reed . . .

The high level of satisfaction among inpatients as reported by Walter Reed is completely opposite what I saw and heard while tracking soldiers there over the last year. The soldiers I interviewed invited me to their bedsides in the lockdown ward. They handed over their private medical records. They allowed me to call their buddies, their girlfriends, their mothers. All professed to loving the Army, though some said their trust in the institution had been irrevocably shattered. All said their symptoms either stayed the same or worsened while at Walter Reed; two said they made suicide attempts. While it’s true that patients’ self-reports about treatment are not always objectively based, the repeated, bitter complaints I heard over the course of more than a year, in combination with conversations with civilian experts, cast serious doubts on Walter Reed’s approach to treating PTSD sufferers. It all convinced me that something is seriously amiss at the Army’s top hospital.

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Category: Health, Iraq, Medicine, Politics, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    And there's more. This evidence of strained marriages of members of the military, from the NYT:

    Divorces, which had hovered in the 2 percent to 3 percent range for the Army since 2000, spiked in 2004 to 6 percent among officers and 3.6 percent among enlisted personnel. The rate for officers dropped to 2.1 percent in 2006, but the rate for enlisted personnel has stayed level, at 3.6 percent.

    Married women are having the hardest time. The divorce rate for women in the Army in 2006 was 7.9 percent, the highest it had been since 2000, compared with 2.6 percent for men.

    Demand for counseling has grown so quickly among military families and returning soldiers that the military has begun contracting out more services to private therapists. Reservists must rely largely on networks of volunteers.

    For the full article, see here.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    And here more again, from MSNBC. Click here.

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