From the Los Angeles Times:
American soldiers who serve repeated tours of duty in Iraq are more likely to suffer from acute stress in Iraq, according to a mental health survey released Tuesday by the Army.
Overall, 13.6 percent of soldiers reported suffering from acute stress in late 2005, when the survey was taken. Among soldiers serving their first tours, 12.5 percent reported suffering such stress. But among soldiers on their second tour of duty, the number reporting acute stress jumped to 18.4 percent. "There is a sense that the yearlong deployments are challenging even if morale is good," said Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army surgeon general. "The normal things -- births, first steps, birthdays -- those are missed. When soldiers are on second or third tours, my sense is they feel that a bit more."
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The adverse effects of multiple, long deployments is a critical factor for military leaders as they consider increasing the number of soldiers in Iraq. If the White House orders a surge in troop numbers in a bid to control sectarian violence, the military likely would have to extend the tours of thousands of combat soldiers, keeping them in Iraq longer than a year. In addition, the number of soldiers on their third tour is likely to increase next year, with the return of the Army's Third Infantry Division to Iraq, marking its third combat deployment.
Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group, said he expects to see the numbers of soldiers reporting acute stress increasing, especially if troop levels rise. "It is a bad sign of things to come," Rieckhoff said of the report. "There is a tremendous mental health toll to this war. That toll is only going to continue as we repeatedly ask the same people to sacrifice again and again. It is not just the equipment being run down, it is the people."