THE MENTAL HEALTH OF OUR SOLDIERS IS TROUBLESOME

BY: DR. FOREST LEWIS

The suicide rate among U.S. soldiers has jumped to its highest level in thirty years!

The Army reports that 128 of its soldiers took their lives in 2008. However, officials are warning that that number is likely to increase, as fifteen other deaths are being looked at, and could likely be added to the the number of suicides.

This increase in suicidality went up by thirteen compared to the previous year. In 2006, one-hundred soldiers killed themselves, reports the Army. The military started to keep a record of suicides in 1980. This new epidemic, suicide in the military, ranks higher than the civilian rate for the first time since the days of the Vietnam War!

Army Vice Chief of Staff, General Peter Chiarelli is quoted as says:

“We need to move quickly to do everything we can to reverse this disturbing number”

I wish the Army well in its attempt to reach out to these heroes. However, there is a problem; and it is twofold. The first problem is, our fighting men are spending too much time in theatre. In other words, they are being forced to serve not one, but sometimes, three and four tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan!

You can only look at death for so long, before your body says in essence, “I Can’t Take This Any Longer.”

When this happens, the Marine, Soldier, Navy Seal, Airman, starts to develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and concomitant depression. PTSD is a debilitating mental health disorder. I know what it is like to have this condition. When I came out of the jungles of Vietnam as a young twenty-one year old United States Marine, I suffered from PTSD!

I was literally, “A Mess.”

Allow me the chance to explain PTSD in layman’s terms. The onset of this disorder occurs when we witness a phenomenon that is surreal. For example, we aren’t supposed to see someone get his head blown off. That just isn’t supposed to happen in a civilized society, right? However, in war, this sort of thing is common place, as well as seeing arms and legs blown off from a buddy stepping on a landmine!

When you see this stuff happening over and over again, the body can no longer take its affect and set it aside.

The above statement needs a little explaining!

Police officers who witness horrible accidents, i.e., car accidents where the victim or victims have their heads decapitated, have to take the emotional side that we all have, and place it on the back burner, so to speak. I have a friend who was a Detective Lt. in the Rochester, New York Police Department.

He told me the story of going to a home and looking at his first homicide victim. “I Tossed My Cookies,” he said. To the uninitiated, the detective, “Puked.”

He learned over time how to in a sense dissociate!

In other words, his body “Split Off.” The heavily emotional side had to go to a quiet peaceful place; while the harden side of ego came to the fore. Now, it is not that this officer didn’t care; because he care “Very Much.” He served this community for more than thirty years!

If his body did not split off, the man would have been in a psychiatric ward, rather quickly!

Police officers, although they do an excellent job of protecting us, do not see half of what our Marines see in Iran or Afghanistan. So, when you send our men back into combat year after year after year, they fall victim to PTSD!

The book that Psychologists take their diagnosis from is known as the DSM IV. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV says the following about PTSD:

* The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one(or more) of the following ways:

1) Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions.

2) Recurrent distressing dreams of the event.

3) Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring(includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated)

Now, when you add depression into the mix, you can see how the Marine or Soldier can feel helpless and hopeless.  The thought of turning to someone like me is seen as a “Weakness” by the affected person.

Besides, they don’t want to be called, “Nuts.”

This brings us to our second problem in dealing with these brave souls.  Most will not come in for an assessment along with sitting for an hour for a comprehensive evaluation with a Psychiatrist. So, many will turn to myriad drugs in order to deal with their psychical pain!

I have a fellow Vietnam Veteran who shoots with me at our local range. Mike told me that he did not seek out help until he was close to “Forty.” He knew something was wrong, but he didn’t want to talk to a “Shrink.”

Finally, he contacted the Veterans Administration–and Mike said the psychiatric department set up a treatment center off of VA property–to attend to the mental health needs of War Vets. These people not only enjoyed complete confidentiality; no one knew that the facility that they attended was a VA psychiatric outreach center.

The military is going to have to change how it does business with its Vets who are being discharged, and are suspected of having PTSD. They may want to think about bringing in ex-servicemen to talk with these folks at some type of informal gathering.

I know for a fact that the VA is doing all that it can to reach out to these heroes. Don’t believe socialists Democrats when they say the Bush administration didn’t care about Veterans. That is a despicable lie!

President Barack Hussein-Obama promised during the campaign that he would remove our troops from Iraq in sixteen months. The Iraqis appear to be ready to defend their own country–thanks to “President George W. Bush.”

If Hussein-Obama remove our troops as he pledged, guess what? He’s going to ship them off to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Nothing will change. Our troops will go on serving multiple tours of duty in theatre!

This nonsense can’t go on forever. And it is for damn sure that we can’t pull out of Afghanistan as some cowardly leftists have recommended. The Taliban would topple the present government within days!

I’m not clairvoyant. However, I do possess common sense. At this moment, my rational brain is saying that Hussein-Obama at some point will have to re-institute “The Draft.”

I can hear the “Knees Knocking On The Left.” Scared, wimpy loudmouths!

Hey slacker,  “Freedom Isn’t Free.”

My new book, “Democrat: Thy Name Is Narcissist,” is on sale at WWW.Amazon.Com and WWW.Borders.Com.

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