Friday, July 15, 2011

Shame on US: Veterans and Mental Health

Item: More than 202,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were seen for potential Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at Veterans Administration facilities between January and March 2011, an increase of 10,000 over those seen in the last quarter of 2010.

Item: Veterans diagnosed with PTSD and other mental health issues face long waits for treatment that leave them at risk for suicide, according to testimony at a Senate hearing Thursday and new reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General.

Item: PTSD and traumatic brain injury are the signature wounds among soldiers returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated 1 out of 5 veterans who have served in those wars have one or the other.

Item: Suicide has claimed as about many lives of active-duty service members as the enemy has in recent years.

Item: President Obama has decided to send condolence letters to the families of active-duty service members who commit suicide in combat zones, reversing a long-standing practice of ignoring military suicide survivors.

All this was in today's Virginian-Pilot, the fine newspaper that chronicles life around the naval base in Norfolk. It also reported that two Navy ships that cost $300 million and were never used will be going to a scrap heap.  Maybe we should have spent that money on mental health care for our soldiers who were used.  Used in more ways than one.

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