Today marks the tenth year of the beginning of the war effort in the Middle East.  On October 7th 2001, the U.S. government sent combat troops into Afghanistan, and would later invade Iraq in 2003.  A decade of war has taken a heavy toll on our nation, Afghans, Iraqis, and the soldiers who offer themselves up to fight in the wars, even though they may not agree that the wars are worth fighting.

Between the duration and the intensity of the wars, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a new study published in the Miami Herald states that “nearly 20 percent of the more than 2 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from mental health conditions.”  The study also reports that many of the servicemen and women who have sought treatment suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as a signature injury of the conflicts.

As the wars drag on, more and more veterans return home seeking medical care for physical and mental health issues, flooding a system that isn’t prepared to treat their large numbers.

According to the story:

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which is trying to grapple with the wave of new and damaged veterans, has been under considerable stress. In a related development this week, an internal VA survey requested by Murray’s committee found that its staff doesn’t think it has the resources to handle the growing demand from new veterans for mental health services.

Some other alarming statistics from the report include:

  • A prediction by Paul Sullivan, the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, that they expect “More than 1 million total patients from the wars by the end of 2013”
  • Since the start of the wars, there have been  298 war-zone suicides, and overall an estimated 2,300 active-duty suicides reported
  • In 2009, the number of suicides by soldiers was greater than the the number of those who died in combat

The study also mentioned that 42 percent, or nearly one million, troops had been deployed at least twice, meaning that with no real end to the wars in sight, the number of veterans seeking treatment will continue to rise.

[Photo By Matthew Woitunski]

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