Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stressing the Stats of War

In the July 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine Colonel Charles W. Hoge, M.D., the chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Institute, published a preliminary study of the effects of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan on military personnel. The study concluded that close to 20 percent of soldiers who served in Iraq, and approximately 12 percent of those who served in Afghanistan returned home suffering from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. The study found that there is a clear correlation between combat experience and the prevalence of PTSD. The study determined that, "Rates of PTSD were significantly higher after combat duty in Iraq."

Approximately 86 percent of soldiers in Iraq were involved in combat, as were 31 percent in Afghanistan. On average, soldiers engaged in two firefights for each tour of duty.

The study indicated that 95 percent of soldiers had been shot at. And 56 percent of soldiers had killed an enemy combatant. An estimated 28 percent were directly responsible for the death of a civilian. Equally grim, 94 percent had seen or handled corpses or bodily remains. Additionally, 68 percent witnessed fellow soldiers being killed or seriously wounded.

Although the number of soldiers suffering from PTSD is high, Dr. Hoge's study found that a majority of veterans are not seeking treatment. Only 40 percent [!!?] of returning soldiers acknowledged that they need mental health care, and only 26 percent were actually receiving care. As such, the number of veterans approved for PTSD compensation by the VA is relatively small. Yet the VA believes that too many soldiers were approved for PTSD disability compensation and is now seeking to deny soldiers this benefit.

{rest of this article at link above}


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