Friday, November 05, 2004

Mental problems following war

This is something that I posted at my regular blog because it gets a larger readership then this one but would probably fit here better.

This is an issue that show it’s ugly head after every war, people returning back who are suffering from some sort of mental disorder. A report released in July from The New England Journal of Medicine of Iraq combat veterans showed that at least one in eight - between 15 and 17 percent - seemed to suffer from major depression, generalized anxiety or PTSD. My unit wasn’t at the forefront and we didn’t see heavy combat for which I’m glad but there are small signs in us too. Being at Edwards AFB, there are usually a dozen or so sonic booms a day, for the first couple of weeks after we got back, every time one went off, everybody in the room would duck. Whether we admit it or not most of us suffer from some form of anxiety, mostly mild. It faded fairly quickly for most of us and we went on with life. Not too many people talk about it because of stigma attached to mental illness. Face it being called crazy once most people think you’re crazy for the rest of your life.

This story was pointed out to me by a new addition to my Milblogs list (on Doc in the Box), Eddie from To New Frontiers. 1st Lt Goodrum came back from Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was turned away from his local medical care facility when he was having a nervous breakdown so he did the next best thing and checked himself into a civilian psychiatric hospital. The problem with mental disorders is that they are internal and mostly a judgment call by the medical staff. We can’t go into the head of the patient, to us they might appear normal and calm but internally they’re one straw from going stark bonkers.The problem with the situation above is that he didn’t put leave papers in, so he’s being charged with being AWOL. I don’t know the facts behind the story other then what is in the Washington Post article printed but it is bothersome that someone who is clearly sick is also being charged with a crime that was clearly caused by his illness. If the charges go through, he could be imprisoned and kicked out and the underlining reason for this all left untreated. Obviously I’m a big supporter of the military but I do think there is a clear need for better psychological counseling available for the returning troops that is easier to get to then the current system. An open door policy that is always available with a minimum of flak or paperwork. These are the people that need the real help when they get back, now while it’s still fresh so they can recover and get on with their lives. I for one don’t want to see them on some street corner in twenty years with a sign that says “Help a Disabled Iraqi Vet-Hungry-need food”.


At 5:23 PM, Blogger deerdancer22 said...

Sean - go to and read up on neurofeedback for PTSD. Here in Rhode Island we would be happy to work pro bono for returning servicepeople as a thank you.

At 4:55 AM, Blogger Bruce Wiseley said...

Hi Sean, Armydoc here;

I was a little disturbed by your last post, but as a 24 year vet with experience in the active military medical system, and the VA Medical system, I wasn't surprised. Remember how long it took for either system to recognize "Agent Orange", and "PTSD", from back in the old days. I think the higher-ups tend to sweep our disturbed soldiers and sailors under the rug, until there are so many instances, that they can't any longer!
We are all different human beings, and we react differently to similar situations, and I hope out Government will respond to our needs in a timely manner, but I wonder???

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

Of course, he should have been admitted to a VA Hospital, had there been one within a couple of hundred miles and he could wade through the admission process and then be able to wait for about three months to be seen.

Then, after about a thirty minute session with a doctor that most likely is not the kind of doctor he should be seeing, he will have to undergo lots of unnecessary tests to see if he is physically sound.

Then, if the schedule permits, in a few months, he might get to the the kind of doctor he should have seen in the first place.

If he is poor, has no car or no address or phone, he is going to be completely out of luck with the VA system.

I know because friends of mine and myself have been trying to wade, and swim through the bottomless mess that the VA has been, is now and will continue to be because they just don't know what they are doing.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

An also...I was able to avoid the VA for about 4 years when a friend of a friend took pity on me and paid for me to be admitted to a private nut house. It was an act of mercy that most likely prevented me from blowing my brains out. After one year incarcerated and three years of out patient treatment I am no crazier than the next guy. Well, a little maybe but not dangerous.

I can tell you stories of those that came back and could not get help. They all end in an early death.


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