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Soldier Suicide Deaths Could Surpass Combat Deaths

The harsh reality that suicides may outnumber combat deaths among those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq is prompting preventative action.

Yesterday, the head of the National Institute on Mental Health offered depressing figures to the American Psychiatric Association. Of the 1.6 million troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, almost 20 percent show symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, or both. They estimate that 70 percent do not seek treatment for these conditions, which can lead to substance abuse and suicide. Mental health professionals, who treat veterans, were urged to proactively recognize and treat such symptoms.

In a hopeful move, last week the Secretary of Defense announced that military personnel seeking help for PTSD will no longer get that positive action counted against them for security clearance purposes.

In addition, some want a PTSD diagnosis to make a servicemember eligible for the Purple Heart, bringing the hidden wound out of the shadows.

Are you aware of this long-term cost of war? Do members of society have an obligation to support returning veterans? If so, how can we fulfill such duty? Are you happy to see that both the military and mental health professionals are trying to address the psychological scars of warfare?


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