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Only 1 in 5 Returning US Vets With PTSD Symptoms Receive Treatment

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posted on May, 10 2006 @ 11:28 PM
According to a draft of a report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, only one fifth of returning American soldiers who display symptoms of PTSD are referred for further evaluation and possible treatment. The Pentagon has stated that it is looking into the situation. They have been asked to provide a more detailed accounting of the process by which troops are selected for treatment.
Only about one in five Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who screen positive for combat-related stress disorders are referred by the Pentagon for mental health treatment, according to a draft of a report to be released today by the Government Accountability Office.

Of 9,145 servicemembers who returned from combat from 2001 to 2004 and answered yes to three or four of the questions, 2,029 — or 22% — were referred for mental health treatment, the report says. The Army and Air Force referred about 23% of their personnel who answered the questions positively; the Navy referred 18%; the Marines 15%.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This problem is not new. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the rates are skewed towards officers receiving treatment, while grunts are told to get over it. In the first two world wars, officers received incredibly preferential treatment. Enlisted men were called cowards, were said to be displaying a personal character weakness, while officers were diagnosed with an illness/injury and excused from any sort of liability, perceived or otherwise.

This tendency in the armed forces is disturbing, I would like to see it change. People deserve equal consideration, no matter their rank.

The Pentagon can help dispel this by showing how they determine the soldier's 'qualifications.' It goes way beyond four little questions...

[edit on 10-5-2006 by WyrdeOne]

posted on May, 11 2006 @ 07:00 PM
Interesting article on the history of the PTSD diagnosis, from the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it's by no means complete. It doesn't reference some of the earliest historical precedent for a PTSD diagnosis, some websites go so far as to reference Egyptian and Greek writers, who chronicled some earlier wars.

The website itself is a great resource for all things PTSD.

When is a PTSD Claim Legitimate?

That's pretty interesting reading too, especially considering the issue at hand...

posted on May, 12 2006 @ 12:39 AM
Why are U.S. veteranarians suffering from post traumatic stree disorder?


posted on May, 12 2006 @ 01:09 AM
My SIL who did a 6 month tour in Afghanistan and 14 month tour in Iraq went and asked for help for this shortly after he got out of the service and was told he did not qualify and was turned away. I don't know if he ever got help.

posted on May, 12 2006 @ 01:53 AM
Wyrde One,

This goes hand in hand with the story about soldiers committing suicide. I believe that something must be done to help returning vets--especially when they are involved in drastic situations like what is happening overseas.


posted on May, 12 2006 @ 03:07 AM
I for one am glad this is being highlighted in the news. Too many people are quick to dismiss PTSD, yet many vets don't just suffer from PTSD as we would imagine it.

The symptoms come in all shapes and forms, and often are mild enough to be ignored by specialists. The PTSD link that WyrdeOne gave above is one of the better ones out there, and there are many advice forums for people suffering from this. I would advise any vet experiencing changes in thier behaviour to seek help or even just chat to someone about it, before it changes your life for longer than you'd like.

WyrdeOne your comment about the treatment sometimes being preferential to certain ranks is often the case here in the UK too. I've found that the level of help that you are offered not only depends on your rank, but also which unit you belonged to. I know a few years ago, it was the infantry that were receiving the least help even though they'd probably experienced the most trauma. I've had friends leave the forces without even being told what aftercare or assistance they are entitled to. Then again it does'nt always work that the person who has seen the most gets the worst PTSD.

I'm also glad that we are at least now able to do something for the vets suffering with this. These guys were sometimes shot in the old days.

I was in hospital receiving treatment for my injuries a few years back, and there were two pensioners coming in as outpatients to receive PTSD treatment, for the horrors that they experienced during WW2. They had only found out in the past few months that it was acceptable to have this condition and they had been suffering badly for decades!


posted on May, 12 2006 @ 11:03 AM
Thank you all for your replies, I was afraid I was caring about something nobody else cared about, again, I do that a lot.

I'm sorry for your situation (or rather, your SIL's situation), if only it weren't so common people might take more notice of it. :shk:

Yeah, it definitely is related. Also, assaults, rapes, and incidents of domestic abuse are way up. The stress is really working on these soldiers, and they're not receiving the treatment they need because the Pentagon apparently needs more money to donate to various buddy-buddy contractors.

We're not even getting our money's worth on these bogus contractors. We pay up to 30x for water and food and machine parts and a thousand varieties of ordinance, but when it comes to healthcare or armor or paychecks for the soldiers.."sorry, we can't afford that. PTSD? Tough it out. Getting shot at? Weld some tin on your vehicle. Family hungry? Try and apply for food stamps."

It's sickening. I disagree totally with this war, but that has nothing to do with my feelings towards our soldiers - I know I'm not alone on this. They deserve much, much better than this crap. Yesterday in the news 70 billion more in dividend tax cuts - so where's that money coming from?


I for one am glad this is being highlighted in the news.

God yes! Me too.

As far as info on the web, there's a lot of it, which is both a good and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. It's a good thing in that, hey, at least it's out there. But at the same time it can be daunting, there's just so much - and quite a lot of it is terribly inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading in one way or another.

The situation with soldiers and PTSD/injury/illness whatever you want to call it, has gotten a lot better in the last 60 years, but we've got a long ways to go I think. We can be grateful for the progress that's been made without allowing ourselves to rest on laurels.

posted on May, 12 2006 @ 11:28 AM
Thank you for this post, WyrdeOne. This is an issue that needs attention.

Stress is a huge factor in general health. It can cause and contribute to so many other illnesses. And PTSD just multiplies that conrtribution.

I'd just like to say that my brother (Vietnam vet) never even reported any illness but it's clear years later that he was deeply and traumatically affected. Not getting any sort of emotional or psychological treatment I'm sure added to his current situation, which I won't go into here, but let's just say it's very clear he was negatively affected.

I feel today's soldiers are getting even less treatmant and respect from the people who send them out to fight than those of the Vietnam era.

posted on May, 12 2006 @ 12:07 PM
How many that request for treatment are denied it?

posted on May, 12 2006 @ 12:15 PM
It stands to reason that soldiers who don't want treatment will answer the four questions in the negative and be done with it. Answering the questions in the affirmative is, for all intents and purposes, a request for treatment, is it not?

So, under that assumption, the answer to your question is 78%.

As far as real numbers of soldiers who specifically request treatment for PTSD, and are turned down, I don't know, but I will endeavor to find out this evening.


posted on May, 12 2006 @ 01:38 PM

Originally posted by Nygdan
How many that request for treatment are denied it?

Not sure on that one Nygdan, and to be honest i would'nt expect to get an honest figure anyway. Theres no way the top brass are going to admit turning soldiers down for treatment.

One difficulty with getting soldiers to seek help is in the "weakness" shown by this. Many soldiers feel as though thier image is severely affected if they are shown to "not be coping". Also there is sometimes embarrassment becasue of this. Guilt is another common one. Questioning themselves as to why they are suffering from this when others have been through much more than themselves.

The paragraph below is from a letter written in 2004 by members of the House Armed Services Committee requesting that hearings are held on the psychological repercussions of war on members of the military involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We were therefore alarmed by the findings of the recent New England Journal of Medicine report, which indicated that 17% of servicemembers involved in major combat in Iraq suffered from major depression, generalized anxiety, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Of those who tested positive for a mental health disorder, only between 23% and 40% sought professional help. According to the study, resistance to seeking help among study groups at a significant risk of mental health problems was compounded by barriers to receiving mental health services, particularly the perception of stigma by peers."

The full letter and additional info and statistics are here:

Plus, the moment you are associated with combat PTSD, you can pretty much kiss goodbye to a normal career in the forces. No actually that is wrong, i'm sure people have been treated for PTSD and continued in the forces, but i would'nt imagine seeing them rushing back into combat any time soon if they have a severe case of PTSD.

Another thing to note, is that PTSD can be the result of just one incident or trauma. Many of the vets we are talking about have been subjected to numerous horrific incidents, this then enters the realms of Complex PTSD, for which there are different treatment methods which can be very difficult to succeed with. I know for a fact that in addition to the examples of complex ptsd causes mentioned in the link below, long term exposure (months or years) to a combat environment is another major cause of complex ptsd.


posted on May, 12 2006 @ 03:46 PM
I've spoken to a few Vietnam veterans with PTSD, and my heart goes out to everyone who has it. It's not something that's easy to live with, and I just wish that they could recieve the help they need.

I was an enlisted Airman, and I have noticed that officers receive better care than younger/1st tier Airmen. Once you get up in rank in the enlisted core, you do recieve better care.

posted on May, 12 2006 @ 03:54 PM

Originally posted by WyrdeOne
Answering the questions in the affirmative is, for all intents and purposes, a request for treatment, is it not?

I don't know about that. They might just be answering the qustions honestly.

When 78% of the servicemembers who are at risk of developing PTSD [...]
The questions relate to nightmares, severe memories that will not go away, feeling numb and being constantly on guard, watchful or easily startled. [...]The questions relate to nightmares, severe memories that will not go away, feeling numb and being constantly on guard, watchful or easily startled.

I'd think that a huge number of people could honestly be having nightmares, etc, and not have PTSD or develop it. War is going to be stressful, not everyone develops PTSD, but I'd think that very many people could have nightmares or persistent memories, or be uneasy and jumpy.

As far as real numbers of soldiers who specifically request treatment for PTSD, and are turned down, I don't know, but I will endeavor to find out this evening.

That might be very revealing. If they are being turned away or discouraged, or not sent into proper ptsd programmes, then we've got a serious problem. The article is suggestive that there is a problem.

posted on Jun, 5 2006 @ 06:21 AM


An early study of veterans returning from the Iraq war found that 1 in 6 showed symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. A more recent study found that 1 in 3 Iraq veterans has sought help from a mental health professional.

(my emphasis)

I found this, and it's got my curisosity up.

I'm going to see if I can find the study referenced above.

Edit: More wonderful statistics pertaining to this god-awful war.

Despite a congressional mandate to assess the mental health of every soldier sent to a combat zone, interviews and Defense Department records obtained by The Courant reveal a fractured pre-deployment screening process in which less than 1 percent of deploying soldiers ever see a mental health professional. It is a practice that has put unfit service members in harm's way, increasing their risk for suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The military's own studies suggest that as many as one in 11 troops is suffering from a major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder or PTSD that substantially impairs their ability to function at the time they are deployed to war. But military screeners have arranged mental health evaluations for fewer than one in 300 deploying troops, according to a Courant analysis of screening data for more than 930,000 troops processed from March 2003 through October 2005.

[edit on 5-6-2006 by WyrdeOne]

posted on Jun, 5 2006 @ 09:05 AM
Only 1 in 5 Vets PERIOD receive treatment for anything.

I know, I'm one of the remaining 4.


posted on Jun, 5 2006 @ 05:13 PM
Are you saying that you were denied treatment by the VA? In your experience, are soldiers encouraged to seek help for emotional issues, or actively discouraged?

It seems to me that only a blessed (cursed?) few are truly comfortable with the occupation of soldiering, and all it entails. It's been the same way all throughout history, I think. In any army there are going to be a few hard-core psycho-killers, a few noble warrior-types, and a whole lot of nervous farmers or the like.

It's a hard thing to do, to sublimate your will and obey orders even to the detriment of your own safety and well-being. I have a lot of respect for men who take their job seriously, even if I disagree with their decisions.

But now that we know the medical repurcussions brought on by stress, it only makes sense for the Pentagon to preserve their investment in the troops. From a purely practical standpoint, you don't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars training troops, only to let them fall to pieces after a year's worth of engagements.

If we've got rogue marines going off the deep-end, that's not just a threat to Iraqi civillians, that's a threat to the integrity of the armed forces, and to the integrity of the country by proxy.

So, if that's a given, why are our troops being treated this way? Because the government has been co-opted by profiteers who aren't even interested in the government's financial well-being, nevermind the physical and psychological condition of the troops.

Do you think the soldiers would be washing with crap-water if the army was still in charge of logistics? Freakin' doubt it...

That brings me to the next point I was thinking on, which is the toll this particular war is taking on the troops. How do you suppose they react to being used this way? I mean, they're barely able to feed their families, and meanwhile they're tasked with protecting crooked officials who sit in rooms stuffed to the ceiiling with bricks of shrink-wrapped money.

They're getting blown up and shot at, and that's bad enough all by itself for a soldier - but you add the feelings of betrayal into the mix and you have an explosive combination. Not just betrayed by their bosses and various contractor buddies, but by the Iraqi people as well - regardless of truth I think it's safe to say that's how the American soldiers feel. "We're here to help you, why do you act this way?" Where have I heard that before?

posted on Jun, 5 2006 @ 05:52 PM
If they dont like the treatment that they got when they went over there... then why did they go?

it isn't like anyone forced them to...

it isn't like they couldn't have come home anytime they wanted...
it isn't ... well actually it is... and it sucks....

I knew this would happen, when we so recklessly went to war on two fronts...

but hey, no biggie... so what if the military is once again, crapping on the soldier that fights in the trenches... they need us, not us needing them, right?

And if that sucks so bad, then they can just stand up in the firing line, and get a free ticket home, in a pinewood bed...

your family will thank you for the $100,000 that they get in survivor benefits...

but otherwise, get a cardboard sign, and join the tens of thousands of PTSD vets that we still have left from vietnam... and stake out a corner, and remind us all of how much we owe you daily...

since that option is what the government has left you with

Dont you just love the guy that slashed Veterans health spending just before the US went to Iraq?

I feel for any of our proud men/women regarding VA benefits...
they got the shaft...

[edit on 5-6-2006 by LazarusTheLong]

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