Friday, June 4, 2010

Mental disorders climb in US Army

Tue, 18 May 2010 07:55:59 GMT
New figures released by the Pentagon show a significant spike in the number of US soldiers diagnosed with and treated for serious mental disorders.

For the first time, more US soldiers are hospitalized for serious mental disorders from their military service than for injuries and battlefield wounds, according to new medical data released by the Pentagon.
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In 2009, there were 17,538 US soldiers put into hospitals for mental health problems compared to 17,354 for battle wounds and injuries sustained during military service.

The revelation cast a harsh spotlight on the problems that have been simmering for years in Washington since the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan that have left numbers of soldiers frustrated. Many of them, who are now veterans of two wars, have found themselves incapable of even leading a normal life when they come home.

Numbers head back -- not only with physical injuries from Afghanistan and Iraq but also with psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress syndrome, drug abuse, depression, anxiety and difficulty readjusting to civilian life, Press TV reported.

Meanwhile , both the Pentagon and the US Department of Veterans' Affairs have voiced grave concerns over the operating costs of treating those suffering from mental disabilities. The treatment appears to have busted the Pentagon budget with Pentagon chief Robert Gates saying: "it is costing way too much."

The US Secretary of Defense also admits that the healthcare costs are 'eating the Defense Department alive,' and much of it involves expensive military psychiatrists and psychologists, who have had to be hired to deal with it.

Multiple deployments of the troops and heavy pressure upon the forces in places, in which the population is not very friendly, are all contributing to the spike in mental health disorders, according to the Pentagon medical report.

"People don't want to concentrate on the stress, this shows the logical result of that years-long policy", Carl Osgood of the Executive Intelligence Review told Press TV correspondent Mike Kellerman in Washington.

Pentagon figures also indicate that one out of every 10 US Marines is hospitalized for mental disorders with similar numbers in the Navy and Air Force.

Ten percent of those returning soldiers will end up in medical treatment centers for mental problems; those are the lucky ones that don't kill themselves.

"There will be more soldiers this year to commit suicide than did last year, and last year was the worst year since the Army started tracking the statistics, so that is just the most serious marker of the overall decline of the mental health situation." Carl Osgood added.

The US Army, which has undertaken the bulk of the ground missions in Afghanistan and now has nearly 140, 000 of its troops in Afghanistan and Iraq , had 10,222 mental health hospitalizations last year, which added up to 90 percent of all army hospitalizations.

The rising number of mentally unstable former soldiers is playing havoc with their social life when they come home.

"This has been the reason for the number of murders committed by veterans, because they basically went off the deep end" said Mr. Osgood.

The latest suicide rate figures in the US military are the highest since the closing days of the Vietnam War in the mid 1970s.

Mental health care accounted for 40 percent of all the days spent in hospitals last year by members of the US military and 5 percent of those stays lasted more than a month.

The US military has recently complained about the $ 3000 a day cost to treat a mentally wounded soldier.

The Pentagon hospital bill has mushroomed to a level never seen before.

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