Friday, April 1, 2011

After the War

Mental effects of war delayed for months can cause the clinician to miss a PTSD diagnosis.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is known to affect soldiers who have served in war zones, but now a study of returning Iraq veterans has found many will not show signs of it for months. Any mental health screening is usually given shortly after return from deployment, so is unlikely to pick it up.
  Not surprisingly veterans who have witnessed, feared, or caused death and injury will be left unsettled for years, and many will suffer depression, aggressive impulses, alcoholism, or the nightmares and mood swings of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  The US military has screened all soldiers for mental health problems on return from Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003. But now it appears serious disorders may not appear for months after the soldier comes home, and little is being done to catch them in the early stages.In 2005, fearing it may be missing some mental health problems, the US military instituted a second round of screening six months later.

Increased disturbances:
The first analysis of 88,000 Iraq veterans by Charles Milliken and colleagues at the Walter Reed Army Institute of research in Silver Spring, Maryland,US, shows that problems apparent right after return from deployment may be transient in some soldiers, as half or more soldiers with PTSD at the first screening had improved by the second.
But, by then, a second, larger group of veterans had started having problems, most of whom had showed no signs of PTSD when first assessed. The numbers experiencing other mental disturbances also increased. For example, the number of vets who worried about having conflicts with other people jumped more than fourfold.
  Reservists, who go home to civilian life rather than staying within the military, were the hardest hit. A quarter had PTSD at the second screening and 36% were identified as having some kind of mental health problem, such as stress, depression, aggression, or suicidal thoughts. Yet they were not always getting help, and, for those that did, the care they got often did not help.

Insufficient care:
The researchers say the indications are that mental health problems that may become chronic are probably already detectable, and treatable, a few months after return from deployment.
  As PTSD caused by battle may be worse than the civilian stresses that underlie most research on the condition, they say more research on treating veterans is needed.

 A study of our returning war heroes is alarming and inexcusable.
You would think that when these brave heroes (our soldiers) come back from Iraq and Afghanistan that they would have a safe, warm comfortable house to come home too. However, this is not so, because studies find a high percentage of Iraq veterans are returning home with mental problems and they are showing up at homeless shelters around the country.
  Recently, the government concluded that there are about 200,000 homeless vets in the United States. About 10 percent are either from the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan.
  Our soldiers need serious help. We cannot let them reside in homeless shelters. These heroic men and women risked their lives to protect and ensure well-being and safety of America. They are putting their personal lives (family, friends, social lives and relationships) on hold to help America. Now America has to give back and ensure the soldiers that they have their own house to come home too. The government has to step in and providing funding for this important cause. If Americans can donate money to help other countries build homes then they can certainly donate money to help build living quarters for our soldiers. The welfare of our soldiers should come first.
  Nearly 1,300 U.S. soldiers were killed since the war began. Many thousands more have been wounded. Last week the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the US is facing a “severe shortage of surgeons in Iraq” to treat wounded soldiers. It is estimated that more soldiers have been injured in Iraq than during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, or the first five years of the Vietnam War.
  Organizations around the country that help soldiers and veterans found that homeless shelters around the country are reporting they are already seeing some recently returned Iraq veterans showing up in need of shelter. The Homeless Veterans coalition estimates that nearly 500,000 veterans are homeless at some point in a given year.
  The medical community believes that many of these soldiers are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  The army reported in the New England journal of medicine that 17% of all of the soldiers who are just stepping off the military plane would screen positive for post traumatic stress disorder. This problem pops up weeks or months after serving in combat.
  The Department of Veterans Affairs concluded that 30,000 soldiers from Iraq had shown up at Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities. In addition, out of these 30,000 one out of every five has been diagnosed with some sort of a mental problem.
  So, if a majority of our soldiers is suffering from mental disorders how are they going to survive in the civilian world? Prices are rising dramatically. Even people that make a decent salary are suffering.
  How are soldiers going to be able to get a good job, work long hours, pay their bills, and afford housing to top it off if they are not functioning 100 percent? A mental disorder is a serious issue. How are they going to afford houses and living expenses if they are battling everyday with a mental disorder that interferes with their lives and their ability to live a happy healthy and productive lifestyle?
  The government is telling us that these soldiers are homeless, but what are they doing about it? That is great they can tell us the figures, the real question is what are they doing to put a stop to all this.
  The government says the reason why they are homeless is because many suffer from residual stress from daily crucifying attacks and roadside bombs makes it tough to adjust to civilian life; some can’t navigate government assistance programs; others simply can’t afford a house or apartment.
  Again, I ask what are the government and the people of America going to do. The government has to have a well-developed program ready so when they evaluate them, they diagnose with a mental disorder they have to have assistance, and facilities ready for them. This includes housing provided by the government for these men and women.
  They are finding soldiers living in towns and cities big and small, from Washington State to California and Florida. Some of the hardest hit are in New York City, where housing costs is extremely expensive. Studio apartments in New York usually cost more than $1,000 a month.
  Many soldiers come home and have trouble finding a job. The economy is at its worst right now jobs are not easy to find. Many cannot support their families for this reason and without enough money to rent an apartment, they turn to the housing programs for vets, but some soldiers are overbooked and for this reason, they become homeless.
One man from New York told a newspaper this, “I ended up in a Bronx Shelter “with people who were just out of prison, and with roaches.” “I’m a young black man from the ghetto, but this was culture shock. This is not what I fought for, what I almost died for. This is not what I was supposed to come home to.”
  “Is this acceptable America? What are we going to do?”About 350 nonprofit service organizations are working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help veterans. It is not acceptable to let soldiers come home after risking their lives to help our country and have nowhere to go.However, more has to be done to help this problem.
  What is shocking is that almost half of America’s 2.7 million disabled veterans receive $337 or less a month in benefits. This is unacceptable. How are our soldiers going to survive? They cannot survive on this income.Something needs to be done and it needs to be done now. After reading this, please contact veteran organizations and find out how you can help. Something has to change. And we are the only ones that can do it. The government will not do anything unless we put pressure on them and demand that something needs to be done.

These studies and the information that is gathered should make us all feel ashamed. I am a veteran, however, I have never been in combat, and I feel that we have forgotten those that served in a combat zone overseas. Contact your local congressman and ask them what you can do.                                      theblogmeister

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