Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pay Attention To PTSD

By Cernig

Does anyone know exactly how many US servicemen and women have now rotated through Bush's quagmire in Iraq? I mean, outside of the Pentagon. Because it's insanely difficult to find a figure - all the official announcements relate to the number of troops in Iraq at a given time, be it 130,000 or 100,000, or to stories about troops going back for their second and third deployment.

But that total is an important figure because it's the only way to estimate the size of the PTSD timebomb that Bush's policy of war forever has created. Back in March I wrote about a report which said that a third of all those returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffered from some form of mental illness - mostly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder although there was a higher than normal rate of suicides in this population that was more mentally healthy than the norm going in to the quagmire too.

And now there's a news story from NPR (H/t Mike at Crooks and Liars) which says that the military's attitudes to PTSD are still based on neanderthal macho-man misconceptions of the condition.

But all the reports are based on percentages - no-one wants to put an actual figure on the number of PTSD sufferering veterans either still in service or now back in civilian life. That worries the hell out of me because two things are certain. One is that far too few of these sufferers is getting adequate (or even any) treatment. The other is that a significant percentage of those suffering from PTSD will be or are already a (potentially major) danger to others both in theatre and here at home.

Update Taylor Marsh, in comments, points to her excellent post last Sunday on the subject of PTSD. I highly recommend you read it all, especially with Memorial day just around the corner.
we should all get prepared to share, shout and hear the tributes all of our soldiers so justly deserve and have earned one hundred times over. We will watch President Bush march out and trumpet the troops. What no one will do is mention the thousands of soldiers fighting to live normal lives long after they've come home. All the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who right now are doing so while fighting PTSD. Memorial Day is reserved for the fallen and the brave. The battle scarred and struggling soldier fighting PTSD every day to stay alive and live normally is never mentioned. The soldier fighting on the front lines with PTSD does so silently in order to try and stay alive. We don't even know the numbers of fighting soldiers struggling on the front lines with PTSD today.
One of her commenters says there are hearings on the Hill on the subject of PTSD. I must have missed the extensive media coverage...

Maybe we'll finally find out how many veterans of Bush's incompetence are suffering from PTSD and how much it might cost to treat them all.

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