Sun Journal photo Illustration by and Courtesy of Amber Waterman and Heather McCarthy

ABOUT POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS

In This Section:
  • About PTSD
  • The Symptoms
  • Suicides and Military Prevention Programs
  • A Move to Drop the “D” in PTSD
  • History of PTSD
  • Chronological history of comments on the effects of Post-
       traumatic Stress as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
       taken from Newspapers and Journals---2004-2014
  • Click on any Title above to read that Section

    About PTSD

    Post-traumatic Stress is a normal and predictable response to overwhelming, uncontrollable, potentially life-threating events including war zone duty, natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse or terrible accidents. War Trauma Focus Group

    “PTSD symptoms are not signs of mental illness. The person who manifests PTSD symptoms is responding to specific experiences and needs help in identifying and resolving the issues raised by these experiences.” Neither is PTS a sign that an individual is psychologically “weak.” Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis---an internationally recognized trauma specials in Post-traumatic Stress and other anxiety disorders

    “Some exposed to traumatic events do not develop PTSD, others go on to develop the full-blown syndrome. For some individuals with PTSD, the traumatic event remains, sometimes for decades or a lifetime, a dominating psychological experience that retains its power to evoke panic, terror, dread, grief or despair as manifested in daytime fantasies, traumatic nightmares, and psychotic reenactments known as “flashbacks” -- Dr. Mathew Friedman, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Dartmouth Medical School, Executive Director, Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, 1989 to 2013

    Although a single instance of overwhelming terror can alter the chemistry of the brain, making people more sensitive to adrenaline surges even decades later, developing PTSD from one incident is rare. But if trauma happens over and over, even if each event is not catastrophic, a person is likely to get PTSD. The brain and the body do not get to rest and recuperate between times of high alert and terror such as in a war zone. Hypervigilance becomes a constant, even when no danger is actually present. Hypervigilance alone makes life unpleasant and sometimes terrible, constantly holding ready for the disaster that is around every corner. Hypervigilance alone can cause other problems as every nerve, every synapse, every muscle, uses all the energy a body can produce.

    Because of the constant state of arousal, anger comes easily and without warning, and the ringing of the telephone causes you to jump out of your skin. You can’t fall asleep, if you do, you can’t stay asleep. Even if you sleep you can’t rest. You are tense all the time, even if you hide it from others. All your energy goes to staying alert, and you are preoccupied with keeping flashbacks at bay--- all the while trying to maintain a reasonable facade. Dr. Reid Lyons, a Vietnam Combat veteran with PTSD and is one of the nation’s foremost research scholars in the field of the neurobiology of PTSD

    “The coming years could see a wave of intense need from military members and veterans just beginning to feel the effects of invisible wounds from their years of service.” “I am very concerned that as the war ends in Afghanistan in December, and as the military is cut, that we are going to be cutting mental health services and those are things we should be increasing right now.” Retired Air Force Major Linda Stanley, who cared for patients at a trauma hospital in Balad, Iraq. Stars and Stripes 3/24/14

    “I buried myself in my work to stave off worsening effects of PTSD, including a growing emotional numbness. When you are on for 6 or 12 or 18 months, your adrenaline is pumping and your body actually changes.” Retired Air Force Major Linda Stanley Stars and Stripes 3/24/14

    Medal of Honor recipient Ty Carter waging war on PTSD
    excerpts from www.ARMY.mil 2/24/14

    Staff Sgt. Ty Carter has two words for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, “get help”.

    Carter developed post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD after his experiences at Combat Outpost Keating, where he said every day was “like the Wild Wild West.” Fire fights were a constant, and October 3, 2009 conditions escalated to the extreme when more than 300 anti-Afgan forces attempted to overrun the outpost of 53 men.

    Despite his many heroic actions during battle, Cater was haunted by the fact that he wasn’t able to save his friend, Spc. Stephen Mace. He no longer felt equipped to save a life and he felt like a failure, “I lost faith in who I was and what I was doing.”

    At first he resisted getting treatment for PTSD, and had a misconception about the condition. It isn’t really a disorder, Carter pointed out, it is a learning mechanism to help us avoid danger. However, it can become problematic following extreme trauma.

    He said seeking counseling and going through counseling is a difficult process but it is the only way to heal, and it is the only way you can help yourself and help others. “Education is the only thing that can end the stigma,” Carter said.

    The Symptoms

    It is important to note that not everyone with Post-traumatic Stress will experience all the symptoms listed here.

  • Feeling anxious, tense, jumpy
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Fits of rage over nothing
  • Trouble remembering or concentrating
  • Jumpy, nervous, startle easy, and don’t like being in crowds
  • Some feel like they are going crazy because they can’t stop
      feeling this way
  • Depression
  • Social isolation and troubled relationships with other people
  • Increased hostility and anger
  • Poor coping skills
  • Increase use in alcohol and drugs
  • Poor eating habits
  • PTSD AMONG MILITARY VETERANS Dr. Tom Williams, Disabled American Veterans and Dr. Mathew Friedman, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Dartmouth Medical School, Executive Director, Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, 1989 to 2013

  • Sufferers of PTSD frequently say they can’t feel emotions
      toward those whom they are closest
  • Many develop depression and at times abuse alcohol or other
      drugs as a “self-medication” to blunt their emotions and
      forget the trauma
  • Relationships are often trouble spots. Often conflicts are
      resolved by withdrawing emotionally or even by becoming
      physically violent
  • Panic attacks with symptoms of extreme fear resembling that
      which they felt during the trauma. They become sweaty, have
      trouble breathing, have increased heart rates, feel dizzy, and
      have stomachaches and headaches
  • Flashbacks--- Sudden and vivid memories so strong that the
      individual actually thinks they are experiencing the trauma
      again or seeing it unfold before their eyes
    PTSD----American
       Psychiatric Association

  • Suicides and Military
    Prevention Programs

    Repeated tours have driven up the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder, which in turn, generates an increase in suicide attempts among those suffering from PTSD Time’s Battleland News Magazine 6/8/12

    The number of young veterans committing suicide jumped dramatically from 2009 to 2011. Data released in January 2014 by the Veterans Affairs showed that the rate of veteran suicide remained largely unchanged over that three year period. About 22 veterans a day take their own life according to the department’s estimates. The pressures of leaving military careers, readjusting to civilian life and combat injuries like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder all play a role in problems facing young male vets. Stars and Stripes, 1/9/14

    “The good news is that officials have seen a decrease in suicide rates of veterans who seek care within the VA health system. Of the 22 deaths a day, only about five are patients in the health system.” “What we are seeing is getting help does matter. Treatment does work.” “The Challenge is expanding that outreach. Persuading younger veterans to seek care remains particularly problematic, because of stigma associated with mental health problems”. Jan Kemp, VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention--- Stars and Stripes, 1/9/14

    Suicides across the military have dropped by more than 22 percent in 2013 defense officials said, amid an array of new programs targeting what the Defense Department calls an epidemic that took more service members’ lives in 2012 than the war in Afghanistan did during that same period. In 2012 suicides spiked to 349, the highest since the Pentagon began tracking the numbers in 2001. The Department offered hope that after several years of studies, the escalating emphasis on prevention across all the services may finally be taking hold. From the Department of Defense as reported by the Associated Press 11/11/13

    Almost three-quarters of the troops who commit suicide do not inform others they are thinking about harming themselves, according to the latest Department of Defense Suicide Event report. In light of that, the military now trains troops to be vigilant for signs of suicidal tendencies among comrades. The San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/5/13

    “Here you are, you went to war and you killed the enemy and performed wonderfully. And now you have some very human moments, feelings and emotions.” “It is a perfect storm because a lot of them haven’t been reporting their psychological problems, their alienation, because the very fact that the services may seize on that to make them part of the downgrade and let them go.” “Many service members are fearful about being forced out of the military for psychological problems, that is devastating for Marines and soldiers and corpsmen who want to stay in.” “The official Marine Corps suicide prevention program counsels that “leaders teach that knowing when to seek help for stress is a trait of a strong committed Marine.” Bill Rider, chief executive and cofounder of American Combat Veterans of War, USMC Sgt Vietnam 1968-69… The San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/5/13

    The Marines have updated an alcohol abuse and prevention campaign and now also requires that every battalion and squadron have a suicide prevention program officer. Adam Walsh, Marine Corp’s Community Counseling and Prevention Programs---Associated Press, 11/11/13

    Because for the stigma against asking for help and fear of career repercussions, the Marine Corps has mandated yearly “Never Leave a Marine Behind” suicide prevention training for all Marines. The San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/5/13

    “The Army has certified nearly 2,500 military and civilian leaders to be able to interact with soldiers on suicide prevention, and has conducted thousands of hours of training with the troops.” “Suicide remains a daunting issue for the Army and the nation and “defies easy solutions.” “The service has expanded soldiers’ access to behavioral health services to improve their ability to cope with the stress that can be caused by separation, deployments, financial pressures, other work-related issues and relationships.” Paul Price, Army spokesman, Associated Press, 11/11/13

    The Army has spent tens of millions of dollars in a long-term study of suicide, teaming with the National Institute of Health, and has developed a comprehensive program of installing emotional resilience in soldiers. “I think we have hit the turning point where people are really, really talking about behavioral health and the fact that it is OK to have problems. It’s what you do with those problems that’s important.” Lt General Howard Bromberg, chief of Army personnel Stars and Stripes, 1/9/14

    Among the Navy’s numerous assistance and educational programs is ACT, which urges awareness in all Sailors and gives distinct actions to be taken if someone is suspected to be suicidal. "The 'A' stands for ask, which is simply asking the affected person if they are thinking about suicide. 'C' is care, letting the person know you care about them. Finally, 'T' represents treat, which is to get the person treatment as soon as possible," Dr. Julie Ruddy, director of Recruit Mental Health at the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC)…America’s Navy 2/10/14

    "A year ago, we launched an effort we called Task Force Resilient, which primarily aimed at the causes of suicide. We brought every resource we could bring to bear to the issue of building resiliency in our Sailors and their families.” "For suicide, resiliency represents the process of preparing for, recovering from, and adjusting to life in the face of stress, adversity, trauma, or tragedy. We found through our research that there is a link between suicide prevention and resiliency, and that resiliency can be learned." Rear Adm. Sean Buck, director of the 21st Century Sailor Office… America’s Navy 2/10/14

    The Air Force has a new program that emphasizes leadership responsibilities in the effort to prevent suicides and a new web site that includes tips on recognizing distressed personnel.” Lt. Col. Brett Ashworth, Associated Press, 11/11/13

    A Move to Drop the “D” in PTSD

    New Label is Considered for PTSD --- excerpts from the Washington Post 5/13/12

    Military officers and psychiatrists are debating whether to change the name of a condition as old as combat. The potential new moniker: post-traumatic stress injury.

    Military officers and some psychiatrists say that dropping the word disorder in favor of injury will reduce the stigma that stops troops from seeking treatment. “No 19 year old kid wants to be told he has a disorder.” Said General Peter Chiarelli, who until his retirement in February 2012 led the Army’s effort to reduce its suicide rate. Chiarelli took on the problem of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide after two tours in Iraq. He has pressed harder than any other officers to change the way service members view mental health problems. To Chiarelli and the psychiatrists pressing for change, the word injury suggest that people can heal with treatment, while disorder implies that something is permanently wrong.

    Chiarelli was the first to drop the word disorder, refereeing to the condition as post-traumatic stress. The new name was adopted by officials at the highest levels of the Pentagon, including defense Secretary Leon Panetta. But post-traumatic stress never caught on with the medical community because of concerns that insurers and government bureaucrats would not be willing to pay for a condition that is not explicitly labeled a disease, disorder or injury. Some psychiatrists suggested post-traumatic stress injury as an alternative, and Chiarelli heartily endorsed the idea.

    “There is a certain kind of shattering experience that changes the way our memory system works,” said Dr. Frank Ochberg a professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University. “The intensity of the trauma is so overwhelming that it alters the physiology of the brain. In this sense, post-traumatic stress disorder is more like a bullet wound or a broken leg than a typical mental disorder or disease.

    Medal of Honor recipient Ty Carter
    Redeployed to Fight Stigma of Post-Traumatic Stress --- excerpts from the Boston Globe 9/24/13

    At Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh area of Afghanistan the 53 soldiers of Black Knight Troop were surrounded by 300 Taliban who through everything they had at them. Ty Carter ran into fire three times to save comrades and establish contact with a support group. Eventually, the soldiers of Black Knight Troop beat back the attack, but at a devastating price: eight dead, 25 hurt. Carter insists nine men were mortally wounded that day in Afghanistan. The ninth was Private Ed Faulkner, who helped save them from enemy fire. A year after coming home from Afghanistan, Faulkner died in the throes of an addiction that Carter says was one of the legacies of hellish battle. Faulkner had been injured in Iraq and didn’t get the treatment he needed,” Carter said. “The post-traumatic stress ate him up.”

    Staff Sergeant Ty Carter asked the Army to deploy him again, this time on these shores, to tell his story that even he, a Medal of Honor recipient, needed help for post-traumatic stress. He is fighting an enemy more insidious than the Taliban: stigma. “My goal is to remove the D from PTSD,” he said. It’s not a disorder. It’s a normal human reaction to trauma. We have to do better by our warriors.”

    Bush wants change in how PTSD is handled --- excerpts from Dallas News 2/19/14

    Former President George W. Bush on Wednesday called for a fundamental shift in the perception and treatment of one of the most high-profile military injuries: post-traumatic stress disorder. Bush, speaking at a summit he convened on veterans’ issues, said that the condition has been mislabeled as a “disorder” and that calling it just “post-traumatic stress” would go a long way in erasing the stigma that affects many vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. “We are going to use our platform (the George W. Bush Institute) to make clear that veterans receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress are not damaged goods, they are not mentally shattered., Bush said. “They are people who got hurt defending our country and are overcoming wounds.”

    NOTE
    In this web site and in our film we do not pretend to be experts on Post-traumatic Stress, service related suicides or suicide prevention. All the information here has been collected from outside sources and presented to hopefully give those unfamiliar with PTS and service related suicides some insight into both.

    History of Post-traumatic Stress

    PTSD is a fairly new name for an old story that has had severe psychological impact on people in immediate and lasting ways. PTSD has been with us for thousands of years as incidents in history prove beyond a doubt.Steven Bentley, Vietnam Veterans Magazine

    Egyptians
    Three Thousand years ago an Egyptian combat veteran wrote about the feelings he experienced, “Shuddering seizes you, the hair on your head stands on end, your soul lies in your hand.” Steven Bentley, Vietnam Veterans Magazine

    Greeks and Romans
    The ancient Greeks and Romans also experienced PTSD. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote of the Spartan commander Leonidas, who at the battle of Thermopylae Pass in 480 BC, dismissed his men from joining the combat because he clearly could recognize they were psychologically spent from previous battles. Steven Bentley, Vietnam Veterans Magazine

    English and Danes
    Records show PTSD effects on soldiers in the battle of 1003 AD between the English and Danes. Steven Bentley, Vietnam Veterans Magazine

    Swiss, Germans, French and Spanish
    It appears Swiss military physicians in 1678 were among the first to identify and name that constellation of behaviors that make up acute combat reaction or PTSD. “Nostalgia” was the term they used. Around this time the German doctors diagnosed the problem among their troops and referred to it as heimweh (homesickness). In time the French termed it maladie du pays (homesickness) and the Spanish called it estar roto, (to be broken). Steven Bentley, Vietnam Veterans Magazine

    English and Spanish
    In the siege of Gibraltar during the Anglo-Spanish War, 1727 to 1729, a soldier who was part of the defense of the city describes a state of extreme physical fatigue which had caused soldiers to lose their ability to understand or process even the simplest of instructions. In this state the soldiers refused to eat, drink, work, or fight even though they would be repeatedly whipped for not doing so. Steven Bentley, Vietnam Veterans Magazine

    U.S. Civil War
    During the Civil War D. Decosta, an Army surgeon, reported high levels of tension, fast heart rate, inability to sleep, and fear of returning to combat. PTSD became known then as “Soldiers Heart”.PTSD Among Military Veterans, Dr. Tom Williams, Disabled American Veterans

    World War I
    “Shell Shock” During World War I the thinking of the medical profession was that tremendous shelling caused small blood vessels to burst and that high air pressure of the exploding shells caused physiological damage. The symptoms included running amok, jumpiness, irritability, trouble sleeping and physical tremors. By the end of the war the symptoms that seemed to afflict so many survivors was called “War Neurosis”. PTSD Among Military Veterans, Dr. Tom Williams, Disabled American Veterans

    World War II
    “Battle Fatigue” This term was started by US forces in Tunisia, North Africa. Battlefield medical personnel found that rest, food, and returning troops to their units helped them deal with emotional and physical problems related to combat. The psychiatric casualty rate was high during WWII despite psychological screening which supposedly weeded out weak men prone to mental collapse. After WWII military experts concluded that the trauma of war was often enough to impair even the “strongest and toughest” of men. PTSD Among Military Veterans, Dr. Tom Williams, Disabled American Veterans

    Korean War
    “Gross Stress Reaction” The military now aware of “war neurosis” provided immediate, on-site help to afflicted servicemen. This assistance reduced the percentage of evacuations for psychiatric reasons from 23% during WW II to 6% during the Korean War. Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis

    Vietnam War
    During the Vietnam War, in an attempt to further reduce the psychiatric casualty rate, the one-year tour of duty was adopted.Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis

    During the Vietnam War there were very few battlefield emotional casualties. The emotional distress began to show after they returned home. This delay in symptoms was called “delayed stress reaction” and “post-Vietnam syndrome”. PTSD Among Military Veterans, Dr. Tom Williams, Disabled American Veterans


    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder officially recognized
    In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association officially adopted the term PTSD to denote a psychological disorder that stems from exposure to an extraordinary traumatic event. PTSD Among Military Veterans, Dr. Tom Williams, Disabled American Veterans

    Iraq and Afganistan
    The Veterans Administration estimates between 11 and 30 percent of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD.

    The good news is that PTSD is treatable. Unlike years ago when little was known about the injury, there are many specialists and services available now. Many vets have recovered from PTSD and become stronger from the experience. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America


    History of comments on the effects of Post-traumatic Stress as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars from Newspapers and Journals

    “Seeking counseling and going through counseling is a difficult process but it is the only way to heal, and it is the only way you can help yourself and help others.” “Education is the only thing that can end the stigma,” Staff Sergeant Ty Carter, Medal of Honor recipient, WWW.ARMY.MIL 2/24/14

    “PTSD and painkillers are the twin pillars of a new mental-health crisis in America. Many of the two million Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from a mixture of pain and PTSD.” From, “For Veterans With PTSD, A New Demon: Their Meds,” by Thomas Catan. Wall Street Journal 11/10/13

    “Anytime a veteran who fought our enemies abroad or helped defend America from within our borders dies by their own hand, it’s completely unacceptable.” “The suicide rate among veterans has remained consistently high. It’s not enough that the veteran suicide problem isn’t getting worse, it isn’t getting any better.” Representative Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs. The Center for Public Integrity 9/30/13

    “These wars are journeys to the gates of hell. Nobody comes back unchanged.” Colonel Jon Coffin Vermont National Guard and one of only six psychologists in the country’s National Guard system. Yankee Magazine January 2013

    “This is not a military problem it’s an American problem.” Major Sam Preston, division psychiatrist Fort Carson, Colorado, referring to PTSD and suicides. USA Today 7/6/12

    “This is not a military problem it’s an American problem.” Major Sam Preston, division psychiatrist Fort Carson, Colorado, referring to PTSD and suicides. USA Today 7/6/12

    “We were caught flat footed as an institution by the dramatic spike in suicides and mental breakdowns.” General George Casey past Army Chief of Staff speaking about new programs instituted over past year to assist combat troops. USA Today 7/6/12

    For troops, suicide is the biggest foe. Suicides are exceeding combat deaths by 50 percent. Boston Globe 6/11/12

    Repeated tours have driven up the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder, which in turn, generates an increase in suicide attempts among those suffering from PTSD Time’s Battleland News Magazine 6/8/12

    There were 154 U.S. Military suicides in the first 155 days of 2012 compared to 130 over the same period last year. Associated Press 6/7/12

    Eighteen military veterans commit suicide every day. The youngest, between ages of 17 and 24, are four times more likely to kill themselves than older veterans. New Jersey Star-Ledger May 28, 2012

    “There is a certain kind of shattering experience that changes the way our memory system works. The intensity of the trauma is so overwhelming that it alters the physiology of the brain.” Dr. Frank Ochberg, professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University referring to PTSD. Washington Post 5/13/12

    “The understanding of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries needs to improve before the military can deal with the more than 1 million veterans who sought help last year.” Retired General Peter Chiarelli, former vice chief of staff of the Army. NPR, April 25, 2012

    “Demand for mental health care is only going to continue to grow as thousands more troops return home. The VA still has work to do to reduce the stigma around seeking care and to provide access in rural areas.” Senator Patty Murray, Chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. USA Today 11/30/11

    “It may be years, or even decades, before the mental health toll of the current wars is known. Symptoms can submerge and then re-emerge many years later, sometimes during stress or life change.” Dr. Julie C. Chapman, director of neuroscience at VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Center in Washington. The American Legion Magazine, September 2011

    We’re sending our people over there with a very high risk they will come back with psychological problems, and we’re not prepared. The Vietnam experience demonstrates that the price of not treating PTSD is paid in suicide, substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment, divorce and domestic violence. The American Legion Magazine, September 2011

    “More soldiers are seeking help for psychological problems than ever before. If the test for success is our numbers and our rate, then clearly we have not been successful.” Colonel Philbrick, deputy director of a special task force established to reduce suicides discussing the Army’s suicide prevention program and the Army’s overall ability to remove the stigma attached to seeking psychological counseling. New York Times, October 10, 2010

    “There are a variety of well documented problems facing a ground force that has been stretched thin in recent years, including post-traumatic stress disorder, suicides and others problems that have not yet manifested themselves. I think we are going to see a growth in that before we see a decline.” Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Boston Globe, 9/30/10

    “Contrary to what some believe, PTSD and traumatic brain injury are not phantom conditions exhibited by weak soldiers trying to get out of deployment. PTSD is not a figment of someone’s imagination. It is a cruel psychological thing.” General Peter Chiarelli Vice Chief of Staff, US Army Washington Post, July 18, 2010

    Mental health disorders caused more hospitalizations among U.S. troops in 2009 than any other reason according to recent medical data released by the Pentagon. USA Today, 5/14/10

    “The Pentagon is learning that mental health issues can take months or years to develop. Mental disorders are the trailing indicator of health issues to a prolonged period of war fighting.” Colonel Robert DeFraites director of a Pentagon study into PTSD and other war related mental disorders USA Today, 5/14/10

    “Never before has this country seen so many women paralyzed by the psychological scars of combat. As of June 2008, 19,084 female veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have received diagnosis of mental disorders from the Department of Veterans Affairs, including 8,454 diagnosed with PTSD – and this number does not include troops still enlisted, or those who have never used the VA system.” Damien Cave, New York Times, 11/1/09

    The government now estimates that one-third of all service members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from some form of mental trauma and those who have served repeat tours have been found to be more prone to psychological problems. Treatment for PTSD is an ongoing problem. “One problem is not wanting to talk about your PTSD – not wanting to talk about anything that might bring up traumatic memories.” Dr. Casey Taft, head of the PTSD research program at the National Center for PTSD Boston Globe, 8/28/09

    “Homelessness, family strains and psychological problems among returning veterans will persist for generations to come. This is not a 10-year problem. It is a 40- or 60- or 70-year problem. I am also worried about a rising number of suicides among US military members. The trends are all in the wrong direction. We’re just at the beginning of understanding how to deal with psychological wounds and scars that military members incur during combat service.” Admiral Michael Mullen chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Boston Globe, 4/3/09

    “PTSD is something we all have to focus on. I think it’s a bigger problem than we know. We have to give a mental health screening to everybody to help remove the stigma of raising your hand. Leaders must lead on this issue or it will affect all of us dramatically down the road.” Admiral Michael Mullen chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. USA Today, 10/13/08

    Thomas Insel, the head of the National Mental Health Institute in a speech to the American Psychiatric Association warned of “a gathering storm”. Insel told the association that one in five of the soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or depression. “Potentially life-threatening mental disorders, including self-destructive behavior like addiction raise the prospect of suicides and psychological mortality trumping combat deaths.” Boston Globe, 6/30/08

    The number of troops diagnosed with Post-traumatic Street Disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007, the most violent year in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon records show. It was the first time the Defense Department disclosed the number of cases from the two wars. Associated Press, May 28, 2008

    “Mental health problems are just one of the cascading costs we’re seeing after a five-year war. Psychological wounds affect families both emotionally and financially, just as much as physical wounds.” Senator Ben Nelson who leads a Senate subcommittee on military personnel. USA TODAY, 3/6/08

    Mental health is the second largest area of illness for which Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seek treatment at VA hospitals and clinics. It follows orthopedic problems and is increasing at a faster rate, the VA says. “The reality of troubled veterans is finally hitting the VA. They’re trying to catch up with a moving train.” Sen. Jack Reed a Vietnam veteran and member of the Senate subcommittee that oversees VA spending. USA TODAY, 7/19/07

    “The VA isn’t prepared to treat the number of soldiers coming home with PTSD. If this ominous trend continues or if all our soldiers return home quickly, VA’s crisis may deteriorate into a full blown catastrophe.” Paul Sullivan, executive director, Veterans for Common Sense, Gulf War veteran, and past executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center. Jacksonville Times Union, 9/16/07

    “I think the problem is bigger than the VA is letting on and I don’t think they are prepared to handle it.” Dr. John P. Wilson, professor of psychology, Cleveland State University and one of the world’s top specialists on PTSD. Boston Globe, 6/18/07

    “PTSD has become a very serious public health problem for the veterans of current conflicts and past conflicts.” Dr, Nancy Anderson, psychiatrist University of Iowa and chair of the Institute of Medicine from a study requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs Washington Post 5/9/07

    “About a third of soldiers and marines returning from Iraq will visit mental health clinics at least once in the first year after they come home even though the military refers fewer than one in twenty.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, 3/1/2006

    Nearly 20% of returning soldiers from Iraq are showing signs of PTSD and most experts say that the figures are likely to increase. New England Medical Journal, July, 2004

    “There’s a train coming that is packed with people that are going to need help for the next 35 years,” Stephen L. Robinson, a 20-year Army veteran and executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center. New York Times, 12/16/04

    “I have a very strong sense that the mental health consequences are going to be the medical story of this war.” Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, past assistant secretary of defense for health affairs New York Times, 12/16/04




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