Saturday, December 26, 2009

Combat Clips: A Selection of OEF/OIF Veteran Statistics, December 2009

A look at some of this month's news on returning Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. First up, from Gregg Zoroya, USA Today:

About one in four soldiers admit abusing prescription drugs, most of them pain relievers, in a one-year period, according to a Pentagon health survey released Wednesday.

The study, which surveyed more than 28,500 U.S. troops last year, showed that about 20% of Marines had also abused prescription drugs, mostly painkillers, in that same period. ... The survey showed that pain relievers were the most abused drug in the military, used illicitly at a rate triple that of marijuana or amphetamines, the next most widely abused drugs.

About 15% of soldiers said they had abused prescription drugs in the 30 days before they were questioned for the survey. About 10% of Marines said the same thing. Prescription drug abuse is "an issue for American society as well, and we're looking at it from every possible angle," McGuire said.

Painkiller abuse among troops has soared since 2005, the last time a similar study was conducted. The 2005 survey showed that 4% of soldiers had abused painkillers in the previous 30 days, compared with 13% in 2008. Abuse within the previous year was 10% in 2005 compared with 22% in 2008.

Zoroya includes more stats in the full piece, and I've included more recent news clips for you in extended.

A Soldier's Christmas Poem And Other Wartime Seasonal Expressions of Light and Love

I meant to post the video below yesterday, a thoughtful reworking of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas called "A Soldier's Christmas Poem." Though the day has passed, the sentiment within its lines still rings true no matter what holiday you and your family personally celebrate.

Yes, it is meant to be the season of light and love. Though, sometimes, it doesn't feel that way, does it?

So many of us rushing around trying to get all of our holiday-related tasks done in time (and hoping we won't get too irritated bumping into so many others tending to their "to do" lists, too).

So many (this year especially) struggling just to keep food on a table and a roof over heads...the luxury of presents being entirely out of the question. So many others who, again, have to spend the holidays distracted -- wondering and worrying about loved ones deployed overseas.

In extended, a few more holiday-related clips and grafs.

I do hope that all of you have found ways to bring the beauty of the season into your life this year, sharing as much goodness as you can with those you love. Here's to a brighter and more loving 2010.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Farr's Mission: Better Tools, Law Enforcement Response to Returning Veterans in Crisis

Every day, people all across the country do solid work to help veterans successfully transition from combat to civilian life. Every effort has meaning. Every person donates uniquely to the pool. Today, I'd like to introduce you to one of these individuals: Darin C. Farr of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs.

Clearly gifted and passionate about his work, Farr assists veterans on a local level [for example, a StoryCorps interview conducted by Farr with a former soldier who served in the Iraq War was recently broadcast on KCPW] and he also extends his knowledge and talents far and wide via his timely and well-crafted media productions.

In a summer post, I mentioned The Walking Wounded Are Coming Home, Farr's first video. Made for law enforcement officers, it showed how their understanding and response to incidents involving returning veterans in crisis can greatly impact outcomes. Farr's next feature, Transmission on Transition, further explored combat PTSD and traumatic brain injury, or TBI, and is geared toward military families.

I've also learned that it's been nominated for a Peabody Award.

The strength of both programs is in their substance, of course; but, they excel both visually and dramatically as well. Currently being shown in training/educational programs conducted by the Utah VA, Farr has also uploaded each feature online. You'll find both programs and a brief review of each in extended. Good work, Utah VA!

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