Friday, April 25, 2008

Veterans Need Our Help

In this year's presidential race, the war in Iraq is one of the major platform issues each candidate is speaking on, and ultimately, whoever becomes President of our country is going to have some tough choices to make regarding the war and the men and women who have been and are being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

RAND has conducted a large study of men and women returning from the war. They wanted to determine how many men and women veterans are experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and/or major depression and how many are receiving adequate treatment.

The researchers collected information from 1,965 veterans from across the United States. They discovered that half of the veterans reported they had a friend who was either killed or seriously injured in the war. Forty-five percent of participants reported they saw dead or seriously injured non-combatants, and 10% of veterans reported they were injured themselves and spent time in the hospital.

The researchers also discovered the highest rates of major depression and PTSD among Hispanics, women, and those who were enlisted in the military.

Researchers found that 19% of veterans had symptoms of major depression or PTSD. Only 53% of those who had major depression or PTSD sought help for their symptoms, and of those who sought help for their symptoms, only one-half received minimally adequate treatment.

Veterans gave different reasons for not seeking professional help for their symptoms, such as they were worried about the side-effects of medication, they were worried about their friends losing confidence in their abilities, they believed family and/or friends could provide them with more help than a mental health professional, and that they were worried seeking professional help may affect their careers.

The researchers recommend the military create a system that allows military veterans to seek professional help without it affecting their careers, as well as providing veterans with evidence-based treatment strategies to most effectively treat their symptoms.

I believe we, as family members, friends, and co-workers of those who serve in the military, have a responsibility to encourage veterans to seek professional mental health treatment if they experienced a traumatic event in the war and/or if they exhibit signs of depression or PTSD.

To read more on this study, please visit: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417112102.htm.

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