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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Helping Vets Readjust to Life in America

From the San Bernardino (CA) Sun:

In 2004, a study of Marines returning from Iraq found 18 percent faced PTSD issues. Of the troops sent home from Afghanistan, 11 percent had similar problems. More than a year later, that figure has climbed to as high as 26 percent for soldiers returning from Iraq. Bull expects the increase to continue. "It seems recently that we have been seeing more having what I would call full-blown PTSD," Bull said. [Dr. Dennis Bull of the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center] surmises that more are affected now than a few years ago because the initial invasion of Iraq faced little resistance.

Certainly, soldiers, Marines, pilots and sailors died in defeating Saddam Hussein's military. But the incidents that affected the troops were direct, and in most cases, could be connected with one or two moments, such as lasting dismay from watching a comrade die. "Now, what's changed is, with all of the (explosive devices) and the insurgency, now people are exposed to danger all of the time," he said. "What they are dealing with is probably a lot like Vietnam soldiers who had to deal with nonstop guerrilla warfare." ...

[Then] of course, there is also the far-from-simple readjustment to life in American society, Bull said. Family and friends need to be ready to support the veterans. Don't push too hard, he suggested, and those who give support need to realize that they, too, must adjust to the changes in the veterans. "And please, don't ask vets if they killed anyone," Bull said. "That's one of the things that really bother them. They expect children to ask, but adults should be more sensitive."

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