10 Percent of Iraq Vets Have PTSD

CHICAGO – A report published Feb. 28 in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that almost one in 10 American soldiers who served in Iraq have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Of the 222,620 veterans who returned from Iraq and were assessed over the year ending April 30, 2004, more than 21,000 of them experienced post-traumatic stress syndrome. Most (80 percent) suffered from the disorder because they had witnessed death or participated in combat.

Additionally, according to Reuters, almost a fifth of the soldiers who had served in Iraq were deemed to have met the military’s “risk criteria for a mental health concern,” such as depression or post-traumatic stress. That percentage (19.1 percent) was much higher when compared to the percentage of other soldiers determined to be at risk (11.3 percent of soldiers who had served in Afghanistan and 8.5 percent who had served elsewhere).

Another survey also indicates Iraq veterans may be at increased risk. In a comprehensive snapshot by Army experts, more than one in three soldiers and Marines who served in Iraq were found to have sought help for mental health problems after their deployment ended. The level of psychological issues for Iraq vets was much greater than for those who served in Afghanistan or Bosnia.

Post-traumatic stress can lead to nightmares, family problems, substance abuse and other issues.

A researcher for the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., says the army is encouraging soldiers to come in for early diagnosis and treatment so that long-term consequences can be avoided.

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