Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Back in the News: Troops Returned to Combat Zone with PTSD

Back in March, I wrote about a San Diego Union-Tribune report on troops being sent back into the combat zone suffering with and medicated for PTSD. In May, the story once more came into play when the Hartford Courant reported on the issue. It's back in the news again with CBS News and Raw Story chiming in.

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

Unfit For Duty? - View the CBS News video
A number of U.S. troops who come home from Iraq suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. But as Sharyn Alfonsi reports, some of them are being sent back into battle.

From the companion report at CBS Evening News:

Army Staff Sgt. Bryce Syverson spent 15 months in Iraq before he was diagnosed by military doctors with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sent to the psychiatric unit at Walter Reed Medical Center, CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reports. "It ended up they just took his weapon away from him and said he was non-deployable and couldn’t have a weapon," says his father, Larry Syverson. "He was on suicide watch in a lockdown."

That was last August. This August, he was deployed to Ramadi, in the heart of the Sunni triangle — and he had a weapon.

He's still there. Under pressure to maintain troop levels, military doctors tell CBS News it's become a "common practice" to recycle soldiers with mental disorders back into combat. The military's actions were first reported by the Hartford Courant newspaper.

I love the Hartford Courant -- they've been doing some of the finest reporting on the issue of combat troop mental health -- but they weren't the first to report on it.

The San Diego Union-Tribune beat them to it.

The Raw Story has also begun a series on this issue today, with the second installment coming on Thursday. From Mind games, part 1: The things they carry:

The same administration that many claim sent US troops overseas without sufficient intelligence, planning, numbers, or armor is equally unprepared to deal with the wars' psychic toll on service members, RAW STORY has learned. ...

In Iraq, where US troops are, by the administration's own admission, struggling unsuccessfully with an increasingly bloody insurgency, US and civilian casualties are rising by the day. This past Sunday, the Associate Press reported that this month is on track to be the deadliest one of the war yet. It is already the deadliest since November 2004, when 92 American Marines were killed and another 500 wounded over the course of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah.

Even before this latest surge in violence, the men and women returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Afghanistan's Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) were seeking treatment in droves.

In August, the Veterans Administration (VA) released a report showing that almost one-third of the nearly half-million vets from these two conflicts are seeking treatment from VA facilities. Of these, a full 35% received a diagnosis of a possible mental disorder--a tenfold increase in 18 months. (View full VA PowerPoint presentation.)

Important issue. Good to see it back in the news.

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