This is a topic I have been meaning to write about for some time. I have been carrying a couple of articles in my briefcase to draw from and did talk to someone from the local Navy base recently, reinforcing my impressions. An article I ran across today pushed it forward in my awareness.
This is a big problem that will rapidly become a huge problem. 5% (although I have seen higher numbers) of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have signs and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Granted it does range in severity among individuals and not all are severe, but 1 in 20 (or greater) is very concerning to me. What is worse is that only 22% (according to the Pentagon) are being referred for care/help. Everyone with the signs and symptoms should be, at the very least, professionally (i.e. mental health professional) evaluated once with access to further care as needed.
Escalating and significant problems with post-traumatic stress can lead to drug and/or alcohol abuse (self-medicating), psychiatric problems/mental illness, increased risk of suicide, increased risk of violence to others, even medical health problems (we are not isolated mind and body).
This is a big problem that is going to get bigger. We must prepare for it, we must deal with it. If it is not dealt with, it will compound. It will impact individuals’ morbidity and mortality. It will impact community morbidity and mortality. We must support our troops, after they come home as well as when they are in combat.