Tuesday, July 1, 2008

PTSD in Military: "A shared national problem"

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report

Coverage & Access Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Highlights Recent Developments Related to Veterans' Health
[Jun 23, 2008]
Summaries of several recent developments related to health care for veterans appear below.

Disparity for women: Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake on Friday said that the department has begun efforts to eliminate disparities in the quality of outpatient care for women, the AP/Orlando Sentinel reports. At the National Summit on Women Veterans' Issues, a meeting organized by VA and other veteran groups after the release of a report by the Associated Press that highlighted the issue, Peake said that the department will spend about $32 million on equipment to meet the health care needs of women. He said, "We are making a full-court press to ensure that women veterans receive the highest quality care" (Hefling, AP/Orlando Sentinel, 6/21).

Mental health: The Chicago Tribune on Monday examined the "complex decisions facing the U.S. military" in efforts to address the "mental health problems plaguing its troops while maintaining its warrior ethos and respect for the chain of command." According to the Department of Defense, physicians have diagnosed at least 40,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, and 12% to 15% of soldiers in combat areas take antidepressants or insomnia medications.

In 2007, 115 soldiers committed suicide, the highest annual number since the military began to track such cases, according to DOD. Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, chief medical officer for the Army, said that the Army needs to improve health care facilities and lacks an adequate number of mental health care providers. He said, "I think we can say as a nation that our mental health facilities and access to mental health providers is not adequate to the need right now," adding, "So part of the problem that we as a military are suffering is a shared national problem" (Madhani, Chicago Tribune, 6/23).
View entire Policy Report.

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