Monday, March 17, 2008

The Psychological Damage to Soldiers Caused by Iraq War

There is an excellent article out by Agence France-Presse (AFP) regarding the psychological damage that has been done to members of the American military serving in Iraq. The article is based on the experiences of the 10Th Mountain Division, which the article calls "one of the most deployed brigades in the US Army since the September 11 attacks of 2001."

This is from the article:

Suicides, family breakups, depression and social stigma are just some of the hidden legacies of the Iraq war among the more than one million US troops who have served in the campaign.

While nearly 4,000 American troops have been killed in the war and more than 29,000 have been wounded, those who escape physical injury still stand a high chance of developing psychological scars that may stay with them for life.

The article points out that troops who are experiencing psychological stress caused by repeated combat tours and/or the amount of combat action they are seeing, have to wait months before receiving an appointment to see a mental health professional. This is also from the article:

The study, by the group Veterans for America, found that the mental health care provided for soldiers did not meet the psychological burden they had suffered during repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Sooner or later, and likely sooner, we're going to hit the wall and something will have to change," said Bobby Muller, the founder of Veterans for America and a former Marine paralyzed while serving in Vietnam in 1969.

The report criticized a Pentagon policy of extending tours of duty from 12 to 15 months and insufficient time between deployments to recuperate as key factors in the high level of mental problems among returning US troops.

On its most recent deployment, the 10th Mountain Division's second brigade combat team lost 52 troops killed in action, while a further 270 were wounded, out of a total troop strength of around 3,500 soldiers.

The figures reveal the unit's soldiers to be five times more likely to be killed in action than the average soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the report -- a major psychological stress on the troops.

The study found troops in the unit reported low morale, spousal abuse and attempted suicides. And yet, troops had to wait up to two months for an appointment with a mental health expert once they returned, it said.

The article also pointed out the rise in the attempted suicide rate among U.S. Army personnel: According to the figures, more than 2,000 soldiers tried to take their own lives or injure themselves in 2006, compared to about 375 in 2002.

This article shows what happens to combat troops when the civilian leadership, ie, the President, send them off on a war that is not well thought out, has no clear purpose other than removing one man from power, and there are no plans to handle what happens after that person is removed from power.

The article is well worth the few minutes it will take to read it. You will find it very enlightening. Of course, since AFP is a French company, it is likely that the right-wing blowhards who support this war will just ignore it. After all, who knows better, Bush or the French?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the average working person, the U.S. economy has been in trouble long before the Iraq war. Outsourcing, and retirement rip offs and wages at a standstill along with cheep imported labor kept the economy growing for the rich in this country!
Lazy unionized teacher telling us our children are too much trouble to teach! State Colleges and Universities costing more than Ivy League school!
Drugs, both legal and illegal playing too high a roll in our society. The worker without insurance can’t afford to pay for medical and drugs and the rich drug companies now want the government to pay for it.
Having lived threw the Viet Nam era and seen how badly the vets were treated on their return from a war that they were drafted into, I can see that that our country is once again getting ready to blame the returning soldiers for the countries problems!
I too am against war, and believe that the Iraq battlefield was poorly chosen.
I also believe that Bill Clinton tried diplomacy and balanced the budget. However, that was also the beginning of the economic problems that we are facing today!
It’s the same old thing, the rich complain when they are not doing well and then find a way for the poor to pay for their losses.