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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

PTSD Combat News Roundup: June 15-28, 2006

There's been a lot of news coverage on the combat PTSD issue of late; so much so, that it's been hard to keep on top of it all, passing it along as soon as I'd like. Behind the scenes here, I've begun working on an incredibly important project: writing the upcoming book Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops.

The next couple of months are going to focus primarily on the writing, with publication coming in April of 2007. As you can imagine, I'm going to be swamped; and so, I've decided to start a new feature, the News Roundup, that will give you a list of some of the more important articles out there with a descriptive graf or two. So, grab your morning cup of coffee and please join me for the first installment.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

PTSD Combat News Roundup: June 15-28, 2006

6/15/06 - AP New York:

Clinton measure would boost mental health efforts for vets

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday sought to boost community efforts to treat the mental wounds of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Clinton, D-N.Y., is pushing an amendment that would expand community services to military men and women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, called PTSD, or traumatic brain injuries, known as TBI.

The legislation would create a training program to help family members care for a veteran who suffered a serious brain injury, a common medical problem among Iraq soldiers struck by improvised explosive devices. Such injuries are estimated to effect one out of every four survivors of bomb blasts in Iraq. "Lessons from past wars have taught us that identifying and dealing with problems like PTSD and TBI right away is vital for overcoming them," Clinton said. More >>

6/16/06 - Asheville Citizen-Times:

Soldiers’ mental health a priority

Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and Asheville native, talked with the Asheville Citizen-Times recently about mental health services available to military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also responded to media reports on a study by the federal government’s General Accountability Office that found only 22 percent of service members identified as at-risk for post-traumatic stress disorder on a post-deployment questionnaire were referred for a mental health examination.

Winkenwerder, who in April was named the third most powerful physician executive by Modern Healthcare Magazine, said one of the most exciting advancements in military health care is the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, a database with medical information for more than 8 million personnel. He said medics in the field now have the ability to access and transmit medical information on hand-held devices. More >>

6/20/06 - Kansas City Star:

PTSD cases leap far beyond VA’s estimate

The Department of Veterans Affairs is on a pace to see nearly 20,000 new cases of post-combat stress this fiscal year among troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest VA report on usage of the agency’s services shows that nearly 5,000 troops were initially diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the second quarter of this fiscal year. That’s on top of 5,000 PTSD diagnoses made in the first three months.

The Kansas City Star reported last month that the VA had dramatically underestimated the number of troops that would return from the war with the disorder. The new numbers further underscore just how far off the department was. It had estimated 2,900 new PTSD cases in all of fiscal 2006. ...

The lowball estimate was in response to a series of questions sent to the department in February before a budget hearing by Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, the ranking Democrat on the House VA Committee.

But The Star found that the VA’s own reports contained numbers that, when added up, showed more cases in the first quarter of fiscal 2006 than the estimate it gave Evans for the entire year. VA spokesman Jim Benson subsequently explained that VA officials were aware of the higher estimate before the hearing, but the report was still being drafted, so they stuck with the lower estimate because it might be less “confusing,” he said.

A statement from the Democratic members of the House VA Committee said that even as the number of cases increases, the VA has cut back on the number of therapy sessions for veterans by 25 percent in the last 10 years. More >>

6/24/06 - Uniontown [PA] Herald Standard:

Fighting war only part of soldiers' battles

Local soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan want to come home, but many will return with feelings of sorrow and mistrust that developed during their tours of duty, and those feelings make it difficult for them to reconnect to their families and society, a veteran said.

Maj. Glenn McQuown, a chaplain in the New York Air National Guard and an Iraq war veteran, spoke from a soldier's point of view at a Fayette County Mental Health/Mental Retardation program on post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on Friday at the Uniontown Holiday Inn. He was one of several speakers who talked to about 30 local mental health professionals, veterans and family members about dealing with PTSD.

The life of a soldier in a war zone is a complicated one, McQuown said. Many soldiers live with some denial about the dangers of combat until they experience fighting or see a comrade injured or killed, he said. Certain feelings a soldier develops stem from their pre-deployment training. Some of those who conduct training never served in the area where they are preparing soldiers to go, he said.

After a soldier arrives in a combat zone, they discover that their training was out of touch with the situations they are actually faced with, he said. "Soldiers come back and we have some distrust of others' competence," McQuown said. "You come back with a lack of trust in others."

Combat also creates feelings of "arousal" and fear, he said. "They carry that home with them. It affects all soldiers," McQuown said. "You and I have to get past those barriers." More >>

6/26/06 - AP:

'Marlboro Man' Marine files for divorce

A Marine who was dubbed the "Marlboro Man" after appearing in an iconic photograph from the Iraq War has filed for divorce less than a month after dozens of Americans contributed to a dream wedding for him and his bride.

Millions became intrigued with James Blake Miller, 21, after seeing a 2004 Los Angeles Times photo in which the grubby, exhausted Marine lance corporal is pictured taking a break from combat in Fallujah with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

Miller and his wife, Jessica Holbrook, were initially married at a county building in June 2005, but Miller had said in a Jan. 29 story in the San Francisco Chronicle that he wished he could give his wife the wedding she had always wanted. Readers responded by contributing toward a $15,000 wedding June 3 at a golf course clubhouse near his hometown of Pikeville.

But by June 12, Miller and his bride were living apart, according to court papers. Miller filed for divorce on June 20, saying the marriage was "irretrievably broken." More >>

This last bit of news is especially painful, and I almost hesitate to include it; I'm hoping that Blake and Jessica are all right in all of this din. My heart goes out to them both...

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