Thursday, December 21, 2006

more on 'unfit for duty'

the OUTSTANDING (they, lisa and matthew, had better win some sort of journalism award) series of articles in the hartford courant

if you go to the link below for the current story, there is a link to the whole series. it's well worth it. we MUST take care of our men and women. they VOLUNTEERED to serve and protect their country.

Army Cites Therapy Progress

By LISA CHEDEKEL And MATTHEW KAUFFMAN Courant Staff Writers December 20 2006WASHINGTON -- Top Army medical officials touted progress Tuesday in breaking the stigma associated with mental health care, even as they released a new report showing the suicide rate among soldiers in Iraq reached a record high last year and reports of acute stress and depression also climbed.The long-awaited report by a team of military mental health experts found that soldiers serving in Iraq were less fearful that seeking psychiatric care would hurt their standing in the military - a finding that Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army surgeon general, attributed to better training of soldiers and increased understanding among commanders.But the report, based on surveys of soldiers in late 2005, also found a significant increase in levels of stress, anxiety and depression - especially among troops who had served more than one deployment. About 14 percent of soldiers serving in Iraq last year reported acute stress symptoms, up from 11 percent a year earlier. Among soldiers on a repeat deployment, more than 18 percent reported acute stress, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.In other findings, the report found a drop last year in soldiers' confidence in their ability to get mental health care for their troubled comrades. And fewer than half of mental health providers treating troops in Iraq said they had adequate resources, while a third reported experiencing a high "burnout level."In a media roundtable at the Pentagon, Kiley said the Army would "keep plugging away" to improve mental health care for troops during and after deployment."Are we concerned that soldiers on second or maybe third deployments could be at increased risk of increasing stress which may lead to PTSD? Sure," Kiley said. "Are we encouraged because stigma is dropping, and soldiers who've got plenty of access to mental health care are starting to tap into that? Yes. We're not rocking back on our heels, but that's encouraging."The Courant reported in May that the military was increasingly sending mentally troubled troops into combat and keeping them there, in some cases resulting in suicides. Army officials confirmed Tuesday that 22 soldiers had killed themselves in Iraq in 2005, a rate of 19.9 per 100,000 - the highest since the war began, and nearly double the 2004 rate. Of the 22, five were serving repeat tours.....

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