For hundreds of thousands of American veterans the war is anything but over

..We, as a nation, seem to believe that, win or lose, the war is nearly finished, done with, history. Unfortunately, for hundreds of thousands of American veterans and their families, the war is anything but over.

According to the government’s own numbers, returning combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are a third more likely to drink heavily or abuse drugs, two-thirds more likely to suffer from depression, and twice as likely to commit suicide than they were before deployment.
A recent study by the RAND Corporation estimates that the number of combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or some form of traumatic brain injury may top a half a million—nearly a third of all veterans of those wars. “There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Terri Tanielian, the RAND study’s co-leader. “Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for these mental health conditions, there will be long-term consequences for them and for the nation. Unfortunately, we found there are many barriers preventing them from getting the high-quality treatment they need.”..

An estimated 300,000 new cases of PTSD and major depression have been diagnosed among combat veterans in the last four years; during that same span, the VA has hired only 3,000 healthcare workers with expertise in treating those illnesses. The true scandal hidden in those numbers is the fact that Ira R. Katz, the VA’s [Department of Veterans Affairs] Deputy Chief of Patient Care Services in the Office for Mental Health, estimates that proper mental healthcare through the VA system may reduce the likelihood of suicide by as much as 75 percent. Simply by allocating greater resources, Katz believes, our government could prevent the suicides of 400 combat veterans per month…

In Ashley Gilbertson’s essay, Cheryl Softich, the mother of Noah Pierce, begs for a year’s mandatory counseling for all returning veterans. The plan would not be as simple as it sounds. It would require a considerable commitment of money, the hiring of thousands of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists, the establishment of a sizable bureaucracy within the already bureaucratic VA system to monitor the progress of hundreds of thousands of veterans. But what is the alternative? The RAND Corporation estimates that the loss to the economy—in productivity and corresponding buying power—could be billions of dollars. But, more importantly, what does it say about us as a nation, if we choose not to afford our veterans the best healthcare available? The supposed lesson of Vietnam was that, regardless of our side of the political aisle, we would commit support to our troops in combat. It’s time to honor that commitment.

The Price of Aggression (Ted Genoways in The Virginia Quarterly Review)

Invisible Wounds of War (RAND Center for Military HealthPolicy Research)

Opmerking Schokkende feiten die vooral worden weggemoffeld door hen die menen dat het ‘goed’ gaat met de oorlog in Irak. En dan hebben we het hier niet eens over de slachtoffers in Irak zelf..

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