Mental Illness is Common Among Soldiers Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan
Almost one-third of veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan who received health care at Veteran Affairs facilities between 2001 and 2005 were given a mental health or psycho social diagnosis, according to a report in the March 12, 2007, issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Researchers looked at data from 103,788 veterans; about 13 percent of them women, 54 percent under age 30, nearly a third minorities and nearly half veterans of the National Guard or Reserves.
Of the total, 32,010 (31 percent) were diagnosed with mental health and/or psychosocial problems, including 25,658 who received mental health diagnoses. More than half (56 percent) were diagnosed with two or more disorders.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was the most common disorder, with the 13,205 veterans who got the diagnosis accounting for more than half (52 percent) of mental health diagnoses.
PTSD is a medical diagnosis defining symptoms that last at least a month after experiencing a major trauma. These symptoms include remembering or reliving the trauma when you do not choose to; feeling numb and withdrawn; and, having forms of anxiety that interfere with daily life.
CBS News in 2007 did an investigation in to suicide rates among veterans. CBS NEWS asked all 50 states for their suicide data, based on death records, for veterans and non-veterans, dating back to 1995. Forty-five states sent what turned out to be a mountain of information.
In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That’s 120 each and every week, in just one year.
Dr. Steve Rathbun is the acting head of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the University of Georgia .CBS News asked him to run a detailed analysis of the raw numbers that we obtained from state authorities for 2004 and 2005.
It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. (Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000, compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.)
One age group stood out. Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)
If you are a service member returning from war or are a family member of one, you should prepare yourself. There is an online manual for service members and their families that is published by the United Stated Veterans Department to help those who may have a mental illness. It contains information to help military family members understand what to expect during the reintegration following time in a war zone, and to help them adapt back to home life with their loved one.
Information provided by the Michigan VA Benefits Attorneys at Allan W. Ben, PC. For more information on VA Benefits, please click on our VA Claim resource page.