Friday, May 04, 2007

Mental Health Review

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military's mental health system is routinely failing troops and families, with poor coordination of programs, inadequate staffing and a lack of focus on chronic disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, a Department of Defense task force said Thursday in a draft report.

The findings, which are to be presented to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates in June, undercut the Pentagon's repeated assurances that it is adequately safeguarding combat troops' mental health.

"We take better care of our M-16s and our tanks than we do our service members," said Vice Adm. Donald Arthur, surgeon general of the Navy and co-chairman of the task force. "We don't give them the same regular maintenance, the same look and the same preventive maintenance."

"We pay a lot of attention to the physical fitness of people, but very little attention to the psychological fitness and resilience to undergo combat."

Among the task force's findings:

Stigma about mental health care remains "pervasive" in the military, with leaders insufficiently trained to help break the stigma by encouraging troops and families to seek care.

There are "significant gaps" in the continuum of care for troops and families, with many military facilities lacking the resources to meet mental health needs.

Existing systems to screen troops for mental health problems before they deploy to war and after they return are not effective.

The Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health wants annual mental health checks for all of our troops, as well as a homecoming checkup. The mental health providers in the armed forces are just as or more stretched than the forces as a whole, and we would need to hire more workers to cover the returning military.

What will happen to all the mercenaries and support companies' personnel that we have over there when we withdraw? Do these companies have mental health workers ready to minister, or will we have merc assholes with weapons going "postal" here and there for the next ten years...

*click the title to read the full report.


Anonymous DrHal said...

Screening and mental health treatment are urgently necessary, even though the task is daunting. I believe part of the solution is increase mental fitness training before, during and after deployment. Increased mental fitness training will reduce the need for mental health treatment and also improve the well-being of our troops. We need to make a commitment for mental fitness as much as our commitment to physical fitness. The stigma of mental illness will significantly be reduced when people engage in mental fitness training.

6:21 PM, May 05, 2007  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

I've seen personally the effect war has on people, military and their families at home as well as on the civilians involved. All I can wish is for Iraq to be over, our troops withdrawn and the healing begun. The fact that the government is neither training our military beforehand, nor is it taking the proper care of those who manage to return to permanently changed lives - well, it sickens me.

Not only because I've grown up with the mentally wounded of two wars and seen what misery results.

Also because I fear for our society when those suffering because of our government's sin of elective war return and don't get the care they need. "Going postal" was the fallout from Vietnam, what will be the fallout from this war?

9:20 AM, May 07, 2007  

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