Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mental Health: Support Our Troops (unless they fulfill DSM-IV criteria)

A pair of CNN military mental health articles have come out over the past few days:

Report: Mentally ill troops forced into combat:
Military not following own rules on deployment, paper says

More veterans may need extra help for post-combat stress:
Fewer than a quarter of returning troops get mental health referrals
The articles detail several dangerous situations, including troops being pulled out only briefly, slapped on an antidepressant, and thrown back into combat without any sort of therapy or even further evaluation--this for a population in which everyone has ready access to firearms. Apparently suicides have accounted for about one-fifth of the total noncombat deaths in the current conflict.

Some of the problem seems to stem from the fact that military commanders, rather than medical personnel, make the decision as to whether someone is fit for duty. And since "be all you can be" doesn't allow room for being depressed, unfit soldiers are stigmatized and placed back into positions where they are dangerous to themselves and others.

Of course, difficulties with keeping military enrollment at desired levels produces undue stress on commanders to keep their troops in the field, crossing their fingers that the ship holds.

And after watching Jarhead this past weekend, all of this seems perfectly in place.

No comments: