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Monday, December 04, 2006

One-Third of OEF/OIF Women Vets Suffer Psychological Injury

Troubling stats and stories from AP:

[T]he VA reports that slightly more than a third of 23,635 women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan evaluated from 2002 to last August had a preliminary diagnosis of a mental disorder. Those numbers provide just a partial glimpse into the problem: Many women veterans, like men, don't go to VA hospitals or prefer to seek private help.

A second study released early this year also found that of more than 220,000 Iraq veterans, 23.6 percent of women had a mental health concern -- compared with 18.6 percent for men (an insignificant difference, according to Col. Dr. Charles Hoge, one of the study's authors).

Mental health experts say one of the biggest contributors to psychological problems for women in uniform is military sexual trauma -- a term that covers verbal harassment and physical assault, which is a strong risk factor for PTSD.

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

Another few grafs:

Studies conducted by the VA health system vary, but generally about 20 percent of women report a physical assault during their service, Westrup says. "Unfortunately, a huge aspect of that experience is guilt and self-blame and shame on top of stress," she adds. Last year, the Pentagon announced a new policy of confidentiality, so sexual assault victims can report the incident and get help but law enforcement and senior commanders are not immediately notified.

Compounding the emotional turmoil for women are wounds and ailments that range from life-changing -- the loss of limbs and brain injuries -- to temporary, such as infections and rashes. Some of the short-term health problems are likely tied to the harsh realities of war, where women can go weeks without a shower and spend months hauling gear and lifting heavy weapons in triple-digit heat.

The VA found 29 percent of the women veterans it evaluated returned with genital or urinary system problems, 33 percent had digestive illnesses and 42 percent had back troubles, arthritis and other muscular ailments. More>>

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