Saturday, April 26, 2008

Study on US Veterans Describes the Invisible Wounds of War

On April 17 the RAND Corporation released a study of service members and veterans returning to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan. The 500-page study was titled Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. [Rand Corporation]

They report that since October 2001, approximately 1.64 million U.S. troops have been deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) in Afghanistan and Iraq. Early evidence suggests that the psychological toll of these deployments - many involving prolonged exposure to combat-related stress over multiple rotations - may be disproportionately high compared with the physical injuries of combat. Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan (300,000 in all) reported symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment.

The psychological toll in the Iraqi population must, by any estimate, be orders of magnitude greater.