Monday, December 04, 2006

Soldiers say PTSD diagnosis gets them shunned and purged from the Army

Not since the war began have I heard anything quite as disturbing as a feature on today's "All Things Considered" about the plight of U.S. soldiers who have developed PTSD and suicidal depression from what they have seen and done in Iraq. The soldiers in the story, all stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado, tell not only of not being able to get mental health treatment, but of being shunned, cited for misconduct and thrown out of the Army.

One of their commanders explains that he does not believe that most of the soldiers diagnosed with PTSD have the disorder; instead, he believes they are just afraid to return to combat. He also explains that dealing with mentally ill soldiers gets in the way of his performing his urgent duties.

The things that the soldiers describe seeing are horrific. When people see (and do) horrific things, they are likely to develop post-traumatic stress, especially if they have had previous, unresolved trauma issues. Those issues could include anything from childhood abuse to a serious motor vehicle accident. War is ugly, violent, inhumane, cruel, and sadistic. Those who participate in it are very likely to get PTSD, become suicidally depressed, and numb their feelings with alcohol and drugs. It is the ones who do not have symptoms who alarm me.

And to add insult to injury, one of the main interviewees in the NPR story explained that he went to Iraq in order to "avenge the September 11 attacks."

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