The Cost of Falling Short on PTSD

Medicine is a beautiful thing.  Thanks to the continuous progress of medicine, we are able to live longer, diseases that would have been a death warrant in the past have become manageable or were outright eradicated, and more severe wounds have become more treatable with higher rates of survival.

We’ve seen this too in war, as modern medical advances have allowed field medics and military doctors to save the lives of soldiers terribly wounded on the field of battle where there would be no such hope in the past.  But with the reduction of fatalities in the arena of war come other problems.

With greater rates of survival come larger numbers of survivors, each with new disabilities and requirements for medical care.  This is something that the modern military and support organizations have to take into account; fewer body bags, but far more wounded.

And when we discuss this development in medicine and warfare, we have to look at the highly under reported situation of mental health care among military members after they have returned from war zones.

Two weeks ago, we learned that the VA was hiding significant numbers of suicides among soldiers that have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, a significant problem that is perhaps put in its proper context when we learn that suicides among soldiers returning from our military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan may outnumber the combat fatalities.

The astonishing revelation is thought to be caused by a lack of necessary mental health care and treatment for a population where a fifth come back with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, yet only half of those people actually receive the care that they need.

Which brings us back to Ira Katz, and refocusing our efforts on the welfare of the men and women who come home from war.  The hiding of vital statistics such as these goes beyond the shame, but actually cripples efforts to correctly assess the situation and create a plan to better cope with the problem.  This should be automatic stuff here.  We need to have the facilities and resources available to detect, diagnose, and treat these unfortunate folks, and get them back on track to full and rewarding lives.

After all, it is inconceivable to me to have survived the sands of Iraq only to come home and not be able to survive the aftermath.  Not addressing this problem fully is a poor way to thank the men and women who risked their lives in the service of their country.

More at Memeorandum: Obsidian Wings and Political Punch

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