June 22, 2010

(PTSD - what the next epidemic is going to look like)

Not very much has been mentioned about PTSD and the state of our Military (btw: the Military PTSD link is 2 years old and hasn't been updated if that gives you an indication). What's happened to the wounded, addicted, mentally ravaged vets who have come home from numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The consensus of opinion (if you're to believe the MSM) is that they are doing fine and have adjusted back to daily life and all is well.

We all know that's a crock. I live less than three blocks away from the local Veterans Administration facility here in Los Angeles and the building of new facilities has been going on for the past two years. But nobody actually says why. You ask if it has anything to do with returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan and a pained look comes over their faces. The news is bad and the news is only going to get worse over time.

Last week I ran across a documentary produced for BBC Radio 4 as part of their File On Four series dealing with the coming epidemic of PTSD cases among British soldiers. I thought it would be good to run it to give you some idea of what we're going to be facing very shortly - what our endless tours of duty have done to an entire segment of a generation.

Julian O’Halloran(BBC): “If your Trauma Risk Management process was working properly, would it not pick up the vast majority of the number of soldiers identified by the Kings Centre Research as having PTSD symptoms instead of missing, apparently about 95% of them? Is it possible, really the system for identifying people with PTSD in the military is really very inadequate?”

Professor Neil Greenberg: “There is a significant issue which is that of stigma. Stigma is something that prevents people who have mental health problems from coming forward and asking for help. What we know about stigma in the military is that actually it’s no worse than stigma in civilian society. However, it is important to note that we aim to do a lot of things in the military to try and decrease stigma and encourage people to come and get help.”

At least it's being talked about in Britain and some steps are being taken to deal with it. I wish I could say the same here. If you'll remember it was John "War Hero" McCain (the one chafing at the bit to open a fourth front with Iran) who voted consistently to reduce or veto funding for the Veterans Administration. The one facility dealing with this flood of walking casualties.

And it's only going to get worse.

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