Traumatic Brain Injury: Hidden Peril of U.S. Soldiers in Combat
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2109277,00.html#ixzz1ptv18DuH
Traumatic Brain Injury: Hidden Peril of U.S. Soldiers in Combat
WASHINGTON — Medical schools will soon include more course work on post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other common military ailments as part of a White House-led effort to prepare future physicians for the next generation of veteran patients.
First Lady Michelle Obama and officials from the Association of American Medical Colleges will announce the plans Wednesday afternoon. The effort includes more shared research and clinical trials among 130 medical and osteopathic schools around the country, including Ivy League and other major collegiate research institutions.
Officials from the association on Tuesday told reporters the goal is to ensure that young medical professionals are familiar with the signature wounds of war, and able to more effectively treat the millions of veterans who will struggle with those issues for decades to come.
White House officials said more than half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans receiving treatment for mental health issues rely not on Department of Veterans Affairs physicians, but instead on private medical practices.
For some students, that will likely mean standalone courses on topics like PTSD and TBI, as well as other common battlefield injuries.
The effort is part of the first lady’s Joining Forces campaign, designed to highlight the sacrifices and needs of troops, veterans and their families. Program officials said no federal money is being used for the college coordination efforts, but Defense Department and VA officials will assist with planning and information sharing.
Lawsuit Says Military Is Rife With Sexual Abuse, 16 Feb 2011, New York Times
By Ashley Parker
WASHINGTON — A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses the Department of Defense of allowing a military culture that fails to prevent rape and sexual assault, and of mishandling cases that were brought to its attention, thus violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
The suit — brought by 2 men and 15 women, both veterans and active-duty service members — specifically claims that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and his predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, “ran institutions in which perpetrators were promoted and where military personnel openly mocked and flouted the modest Congressionally mandated institutional reforms.”
It also says the two defense secretaries failed “to take reasonable steps to prevent plaintiffs from being repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and sexually harassed by federal military personnel.”
Myla Haider, a former Army sergeant and a plaintiff in the suit, said she was raped in 2002 while interning in Korea with the military’s Criminal Investigative Command. “It is an atmosphere of zero accountability in leadership, period,” she said an interview.
Ms. Haider, who appeared with other plaintiffs at a news conference earlier Tuesday at the National Press Club, said: “The policies that are put in place are extremely ineffectual. There was severe maltreatment in these cases, and there was no accountability whatsoever. And soldiers in general who make any type of complaint in the military are subject to retaliation and have no means of defending themselves.”
In the complaint, Ms. Haider said she did not report her rape because she “did not believe she would be able to obtain justice.” But she said she joined the suit because she wanted to “address the systematic punishment of soldiers who come forward with any type of complaint,” whether it involves sexual assault or post-traumatic stress disorder related to combat.
FULL ARTICLE AT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/us/16military.html
Study: Help Upfront Reduces Troops’ Mental Ills, 18 Jan 2011, USA Today
By Gregg Zoroya
A battlefield study conducted by the Army on 20,000 soldiers during the troop surge in Iraq shows that more aggressive efforts to question and counsel GIs about their mental health reduce by nearly 80% the number who develop behavioral health illnesses during combat.
The results of the study, to be published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also show that 54% fewer soldiers contemplated suicide and that the number who needed to be sent home from Iraq with mental health problems dropped by nearly 70%.
“We’re excited about what this study shows,” says Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army deputy surgeon general. “It is the first direct evidence that a program (of more aggressive screening and treatment) is effective in preventing adverse behavioral health outcomes.”
The Army will begin using screening and treatment methods from the study within six months, Horoho says.
Report Examines Combat Stress Care Of Women Vets, Newport News Daily Press, 10 Jan 2011
By Veronica Chufo
The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General released a report studying the growing number of women who suffer from combat stress.
Among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, a smaller pecentage of women than men were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, while a higher percentage were diagnosed with depression.
That’s according to a report requested by Sen. Mark R. Warner and prepared by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.
Although women aren’t assigned to units primarily engaged in direct ground combat, many female veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from the same combat stress as their male counterparts.
Warner was hearing that the Department of Veterans Affairs was not fully taking care of those women, so he called for a study of the growing number of women who suffer from combat stress. He will tour the Hampton VA Monday to talk about the report.
Genevieve Chase, executive director of the nonprofit American Women Veterans, applauded Warner’s effort to get the study funded.
“Now that we have the facts, we need to analyze it,” she said.
The study looked at 246,976 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and 246,080 who served elsewhere.
Among those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 12 percent of active female veterans and about 16 percent of reserve unit female veterans were diagnosed with PTSD, compared to about 17 percent of active and reserve male veterans.
A year at War: Families Bear Brunt Of Deployment Strains, New York Times, 31 Dec 2010
By James Dao and Catrin Einhorn
WAUTOMA, Wis. — Life changed for Shawn Eisch with a phone call last January. His youngest brother, Brian, a soldier and single father, had just received orders to deploy from Fort Drum, N.Y., to Afghanistan and was mulling who might take his two boys for a year. Shawn volunteered.
So began a season of adjustments as the boys came to live in their uncle’s home here. Joey, the 8-year-old, got into fistfights at his new school. His 12-year-old brother, Isaac, rebelled against their uncle’s rules. And Shawn’s three children quietly resented sharing a bedroom, the family computer and, most of all, their parents’ attention with their younger cousins.
The once comfortable Eisch farmhouse suddenly felt crowded.
”It was a lot more traumatic than I ever pictured it, for them,” Shawn, 44, said. ”And it was for me, too.”
The work of war is very much a family affair. Nearly 6 in 10 of the troops deployed today are married, and nearly half have children. Those families — more than a million of them since 2001 — have borne the brunt of the psychological and emotional strain of deployments.
Siblings and grandparents have become surrogate parents. Spouses have struggled with loneliness and stress. Children have felt confused and abandoned during the long separations. All have felt anxieties about the distant dangers of war.
Christina Narewski, 26, thought her husband’s second deployment might be easier for her than his first. But she awoke one night this summer feeling so anxious about his absence that she thought she was having a heart attack and called an ambulance. And she still jumps when the doorbell rings, worried it will be officers bearing unwanted news.
”You’re afraid to answer your door,” she said.
For Many Returning Veterans, Home Is Where The Trouble Is, New York Times, 3 Jan 2011
By Lawrence Downes
UTICA, N.Y.–Across the country a tide is reversing. Soldiers deployed to two long wars are coming back, bringing some of the anguish home with them. Those who leave the service are trying to restart civilian lives, rejoining their families, going to college, trying to find jobs. It doesn’t always work out.
The challenges for returning veterans are particularly visible in upstate New York, around Fort Drum, home to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, and some of the most frequently deployed combat units anywhere. Since 9/11, tens of thousands of Drum soldiers have seen two or three, sometimes even four tours of duty. Most who return disperse around the country, but a significant percentage stay nearby. Veterans are 13 percent of the population in the Fort Drum area, compared with 9 percent in the rest of the state.
In that band of fading cities and rural communities, the governmental safety net is stretched thin. With more veterans needing help, a growing network of nonprofit organizations is rising to meet the demand.
Business is booming in the veterans outreach center in downtown Utica. The center, once a YMCA, was bright and bustling on a recent gray, snow-dusted day. Staff members proudly showed the strands of a new safety net being woven into place: dormitory rooms upstairs that will soon be converted to transitional housing, a basement full of donated clothing, housewares and furniture. Classrooms. A boxing ring and exercise room. An Internet cafe.
On Dec. 10, the center celebrated the ribbon-cutting for a new program in which veterans meet other veterans for outings, conversation, friendship. The simple idea behind it: if you haven’t been there, you don’t know.
Female Vets Much More Likely to Commit Suicide, Study Finds, Medline Plus, 2 Dec 2010
By: Robert Preidt
The suicide rate among young female U.S. military veterans is nearly three times higher than among civilian women, a new study has found.
Researchers analyzed data on 5,948 female suicides in 16 states between 2004 and 2007. In the 18-to-34 age group, there were 56 suicides among 418,132 veterans and 1,461 suicides among 33,257,362 nonveterans.