Those Crazy Troops: More Bush Administration Support

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Alright, so you know the number of dead US troops in Iraq: 1,643. You know about the number of wounded US troops in Iraq: 13,877. I would like to direct your attention to another little statistic created from this war: 13,263 U.S. Army medical evacuations, 6% of which were for psychiatric reasons, and this is just the Army.

A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in July of 2004 showed 15.6% of Marines and 17.1% of soldiers interviewed after their tour of duty in Iraq "met the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." This according to the the study published by the Center for American Progress: "Hidden Toll of the War in Iraq-Mental Health and the Military". Another report showed 17.4% of paratroopers showed symptoms of PTSD.

Earlier this month the Army's surgeon general stated that 30% of returning Iraq vets have developed stress-related mental health problems. This statement was the result of a survey done by the Army of 1,000 troops, a survey that found problems such as: anxiety, depression, nightmares, anger and inability to concentrate. Sounds just like the qualities I am looking for in say, a state police officer, the kind of job some of these troops will come home and work.

The standard procedure for troops departing to and returning from a war zone is the military health questionnaire that is issued to troops before departure and upon end of their tour of duty. However much like many other departments in this administration the DOD (Department of Defense) has managed to "drop the ball" on this procedure. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a Congress requested report in September of 2003 dealing with the practice of issuing the questionnaires. The GAO went over the record of 1,071 Army and Air Force members and found that 38% to 98% of the troops were missing one or both of their health questionnaires. This means that the numbers quoted above regarding troops mental health are severely under-reported.

According to Operation Truth, between January and September of 2004, the number of Iraq vets seeking care VA increased by 280%. More alarming is the 390% increase in troops needing treatment for mental health issues.

If you support this war, will you support these people when they come home from this rampage and integrate back into your community? How will the Bush administration support these mentally ill men and women who will no doubt be the next generation of people standing on the corner with a sign. Stop and add up all the numbers: the dead, the wounded, the discharged and the mentally ill. Now ask yourself if this is enough? How many more families and lives need to be destroyed by this war before support ceases?

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