March 23, 2006

The Iraq War and Serviceman Mental Illness

As should be expected the high-stress of participating in the Iraq war combined with the fact that many US servicemen (and women) come from under-priviledged backgrounds (i.e. low income, poor nutrition, poor social environments, and high stress urban households - all of which are factors that have been linked with increased risk of mental illness) is resulting in the triggering of very high rates of mental illness in US servicemen and women. The high stress of war is the last place you would want to place these high-risk people.

The San Diego Tribune further reported that because of the shortfalls in new recruits, the military is shipping back to Iraq people who already have mental health problems.

The story reported:

"Besides bringing antibiotics and painkillers, military personnel nationwide are heading back to Iraq with a cache of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

The psychotropic drugs are a bow to a little-discussed truth fraught with implications: Mentally ill service members are being returned to combat. ...

Sen. Barbara Boxer hopes to address the controversy through the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, which is expected to start work next month. The California Democrat wrote the legislation that created the panel. She wants the task force to examine deployment policies and the quality and availability of mental-health care for the military.

"We've also heard reports that doctors are being encouraged not to identify mental-health illness in our troops. I am asking for a lot of answers," Boxer said during a March 8 telephone interview. "If people are suffering from mental-health problems, they should not be sent on the battlefield."

additionally, the story reported:

"A Pentagon survey released last month found that 35 percent of the troops returning from Iraq had received psychological counseling during their first year home.

That survey echoed statistics collected by the San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. The system has found that about 33 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The various studies apparently didn't consider the effects of multiple combat tours, though psychiatrists agree that the greater people's exposure to combat, generally the higher their risk of suffering mental illness."

Source: San Diego Tribune


Any war is Stressful.But to link the stress as a Mentaldisorder and then again to link it to "poor background,brokenfamily background",the mentalhealth community is doing a great diservice to the Patriotic Americans who are fighting for their country.As normally blacks,hispanics who are poor and join the army a vieled suggestion is there as if they are having broken families.Why gulfwar syndrome?Why not the americans who faught the second world war are not sufferring from WOrldwar II syndrome?!!!As for that matter Vietnamwar syndrome?All wars are stressful and some who cannot stomach the horrors get ill and distressed.are the cadres of zarquavi who fight the americans are facing less stress?Are the Americans who fight in Iraq today are less comfortable than say the americans who faught in worldwar II?Is the vietgong and the North vietnamese army who faught against the Americans sufferr from Mentalillness?Infact the vietnamese who faced napalm,agent orange should suffer more mentalillness?Psychiatry should get over from these causes and concentrate on Brainchemicals,neuropathways,Imbalance in brain electricity so that an answer could be found for the mentalillness.ADHD, as the name itself suggests puts the BLAME on parents for giving "less attention".Is Attention defeciency is the cause or again the imbalance in brain chemicals,wrongly wired neuronpathways?Psychiatry should mature.

Posted by: captain johann at March 25, 2006 07:58 PM

The WW2 and Viet Nam vets DO suffer from the same PTSD syndromes as those in IRAQ. I am a VA physician and treat them all the time in a psychiatric facility. Read ON KILLING. Many vets are mentally ill and most of them are white and on up to 100% disability for their mental illnesses. It's not a blame problem but the realities of war and the realities of growing up in a dysfunctional America.

Posted by: Diane White at May 27, 2006 02:24 PM

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