The latest mental health surveys of American, Canadian and British combat troops in Afghanistan found that 20% — one soldier in five –suffer from acute stress, depression or anxiety attacks.
According to the Congressional Quarterly Weekly, more U.S. servicemen committed suicide than were killed in combat last year in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some 468 servicemen took their own lives and 462 were killed in action.
As many as 18 veterans of all recent wars take their own lives in the U.S. every day � more than 6,500 per year.
Vietnam veterans have estimated that since that war, suicide has killed more of the soldiers who fought in that conflict than in the actual war itself.
Vietnam Silver and Bronze medal winner Sidney A. Lee, an African-American veteran activist, said in a recent LA Times interview that African American men especially are vulnerable to Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) since they are more frequently assigned to combat units. He said this happens because Blacks usually have poor education, and suicides are often the result of stress diseases like PTSD (often involving flashbacks) as well as brain injuries from explosions.
Canadian Forces Ombudsman Pierre Daigle has called PTSD and related stress illnesses “a real hardship for Canada�s soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen for many years to come.” One in four Canadian soldiers returning from combat duty in Afghanistan is suffering from mental problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression or �high-risk drinking,� according to post-deployment screening reports.
A conference hosted by the Veteran’s Health Research Institute in San Francisco, called “Preparing For the Future of Veterans Health,” revealed that research indicates that PTSD affects the body as well as the brain. Their research suggest that older PTSD veterans were almost twice as likely to develop dementia, they have two to three times higher risk of heart disease, and have a higher risk of death after surgery.
But, studies show the treatment of PTSD gives veterans a fighting chance of regaining good mental and physical health.
PTSD affects 15 to 20 percent of military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, the US Veteran’s Administration is hoping that those veterans get treatment, sooner, rather than later, to head off those long term health problems.
In the UK, latest official British military figures state that almost 4,000 service men and women – 2% of the Armed Forces – were diagnosed with mental health problems last year. It’s only recently that PTSD has been publicly discussed in the UK. Men who are veterans of conflicts from the Falklands to Iraq and Afghanistan are beginning to come together in privately organized self-help groups, perhaps a typically English way of handling the problem. An example is the “Combat Stress Angling Society” — founded by a former paratrooper who served in Northern Ireland. After getting the attention of a philanthropic aristocrat, Lady Victoria Leatham, the Angling Society has been granted free access to fishing at more than 50 stately homes across the quiet English countryside, including Blenheim Palace.
From government therapy to self-help treatment, PTSD is finally being recognized — and treated.
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Copyright© 2011 by Kathleen Falken. This Article may be freely copied and distributed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice and active links.
Kate Falken has participated in psychic research, dreamstudy and the practice of psychology for over 30 years. Click Here for WUVING.com Relationship Tips and Click Here for TREATMENT POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER