Thursday, August 22, 2013

When will the DOD actually do something on PTSD and suicides?

In 2006 thee was a bill introduced to "provide more funds for PTSD counseling and benefits. The bill includes $180 million extra for readjustment counseling and mental health services at Vet Centers, and a promise of one-on-one counseling for returning veterans in addition to group counseling."

In Connecticut there was this report about redeployments, PTSD and suicides
Army Spec. Jeffrey Henthorn, a young father and third-generation soldier, whose death last year is still being mourned by his native Choctaw, Okla.What his hometown does not know is that Henthorn, 25, had been sent back to Iraq for a second tour, even though his superiors knew he was unstable and had threatened suicide at least twice, according to Army investigative reports and interviews.

When he finally succeeded in killing himself on Feb. 8, 2005, at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, an Army report says, the work of the M-16 rifle was so thorough that fragments of his skull pierced the barracks ceiling.In a case last July, a 20-year-old soldier who had written a suicide note to his mother was relieved of his gun and referred for a psychological evaluation, but then was accused of faking his mental problems and warned he could be disciplined, according to what he told his family.

Three weeks later, after his gun had been handed back, Pfc. Jason Scheuerman, of Lynchburg, Va., used it to end his life.

Also kept in the war zone was Army Pfc. David L. Potter, 22, of Johnson City, Tenn., who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression while serving in Iraq in 2004. Potter remained with his unit in Baghdad despite a suicide attempt and a psychiatrist's recommendation that he be separated from the Army, records show. Ten days after the recommendation was signed, he slid a gun out from under another soldier's bed, climbed to the second floor of an abandoned building and shot himself through the mouth, the Army has concluded.
The Hartford Courent followed that report up with this one.
• Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.

• Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs with little or no counseling or medical monitoring, in violation of the military's regulations.

• Some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone.These practices seem to have fueled an increase in the suicide rate among troops serving in Iraq, which reached an all-time high in 2005 when 22 soldiers killed themselves — accounting for nearly one-fifth of all noncombat Army deaths.The investigation found that at least 11 service members who committed suicide in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite exhibiting signs of significant psychological distress.

The Army's top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth C. Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder back into combat, have been driven in part by the troop shortage. "The challenge for us is that the Army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge," she said.Under the military's pre-deployment screening process — routinely no more than a single, self-reported mental health question on a form — troops with serious mental disorders are not being identified, and others whose mental illnesses are known are being deployed anyway.

We knew the same year that medications were also deadly. Again, this is from the Hartford Courant.
• Antidepressant medications with potentially serious side effects are being dispensed with little or no monitoring and sometimes minimal counseling, despite FDA warnings that the drugs can increase suicidal thoughts.

• Military doctors treating combat stress symptoms are sending some soldiers back to the front lines after rest and a three-day regimen of drugs - even though experts say the drugs typically take two to six weeks to begin working.

• The emphasis on maintaining troop numbers has led some military doctors to misjudge the severity of mental health symptoms.Some of the practices are at odds with the military's own medical guidelines, which state that certain mental illnesses are incompatible with military service, and some medications are not suited for combat deployments.

The problem is, they knew what this was producing in 2006 but did it anyway. The worst thing is they are still doing it. In Afghanistan, redeployed U.S. soldiers still coping with demons of post-traumatic stress

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