Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Perspective: Returning veterans fight the war within

Hailed as an example of American grit, the 'Marlboro Marine' later suffered from PTSD

The physical risks of war may end when a soldier leaves the battlefield, but new research indicates the mental toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is continuing to build, creating a psychological health crisis with no end in sight.

Some experts believe the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder, the most common mental health problem among veterans, may even begin to exceed that seen among those who fought in Vietnam. Among the reasons cited: Many soldiers are enduring multiple tours of duty and more are surviving severe wounds than ever before.

A study of more than 100,000 veterans who have sought medical care since returning from war shows that nearly one-quarter have mental health problems. Half of those--more than 13,000 people--were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder according to the report to be published Tuesday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The disorder affects less than 4 percent of the general public.

Read the rest at the Chicago Tribune