The War Within - A Look at the Rise of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the US Military

The cost of the American Empire is not just measured in financial terms and in opportunity cost, our Empire exacts a punishing human toll.

Psychiatrists estimate that one in three US soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The film, The War Within, addresses the US army's Human Resources dilemma and features the stories of those who have had to come to terms with the physical and psychological wounds suffered from fighting a war that is increasingly unpopular here at home and around the world.

Here are a few facts and figures:

The military suicide rate for 2009 was the highest level among soldiers since the Pentagon began tracking it three decades ago. Suicides among active US soldiers in 2009 rose for the fifth year in a row.

In 2009, more US soldiers killed themselves than were killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. At least 334 members of the military services have committed suicide in 2009, compared with 297 killed in Afghanistan and 144 who died in Iraq.

In 2008, the Army suicide rate surpassed that for civilians for the first time since the Vietnam War and it is continuing to rise. Roughly 20.2 of every 100,000 soldiers killed themselves. The civilian rate for 2006, the most recent figure available, was 19.2 when adjusted to match the demographics.

In 2009, the Army had 211 of the 334 suicides, while the Navy had 47, the Air Force had 34 and the Marine Corps (active duty only) had 42.

A Pentagon study revealed that 10% of the returning soldiers met the military's criteria for PTSD.

The New England Journal of Medicine studied four combat units and found that 17% of Iraq war veterans and 11% of Afghanistan war veterans suffered from PTSD. In addition, 25% of returning soldiers were drinking excessively.

A study by the RAND Corporation revealed that 20% of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from PTSD or severe depression; sadly, only about 50% of these veterans will get the treatment they need.

An older study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) discovered that only 20% of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans who test positive for combat related stress disorders are actually referred by the Pentagon for mental health treatment.

On average, 18 US Veterans commit suicide each day. Veterans account for one in five suicides in the United States even though veterans account for only 8 percent of the US population.

 

Tags: US Military, PTSD (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

And who doesn't recall General Patton's reference to soldiers with PTSD as "cowards."

I really believe that we would have less PTSD and much fewer wars if generals and officers were required to fight in the front lines. And of course they should take the politicians with them.

by MainStreet 2010-02-04 02:22PM | 0 recs
First American Tank Officer

Patton saw action in France in WWI. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, "he was the first officer assigned to the new United States Tank Corps."

by Nathan Empsall 2010-02-04 06:02PM | 0 recs

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