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300,000 US veterans have mental problem, 320,000 had brain injuries

By PAULINE JELINEK | Associated Press | Apr 17, 08 12:36 PM CDT

Some 300,000 U.S. troops are suffering from major
depression or post-traumatic stress from serving in the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 received
brain injuries, a new study estimates.

Only about half have sought treatment, said the study
released Thursday by the RAND Corp.

"There is a major health crisis facing those men and
women who have served our nation in Iraq and
Afghanistan," said Terri Tanielian, the project's
co-leader and a researcher at the nonprofit RAND.

"Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for
these mental health conditions, there will be long-term
consequences for them and for the nation," she said in
an interview with The Associated Press.

The 500-page study is the first large-scale, private
assessment of its kind _ including a survey of 1,965
service members across the country, from all branches
of the armed forces and including those still in the
military as well as veterans who have left the

Its results appear consistent with a number of mental
health reports from within the government, though the
Defense Department has not released the number of
people it has diagnosed or who are being treated for
mental problems. The Department of Veterans Affairs
said this month that its records show about 120,000 who
served in the two wars and are no longer in the
military have been diagnosed with mental health
problems. Of the 120,000, approximately 60,000 are
suffering from PTSD, the VA said.

Veterans Affairs is responsible for care of service
members after they have left the service, while the
Defense Department covers active duty and reservist
needs. The lack of information from the Pentagon was
one motivation for the RAND study, Tanielian said.

The most prominent and detailed military study on
mental health that is released is the Army's survey of
soldiers at the warfront. Officials said last month
that its most recent one, done last fall, found 18.2
percent of soldiers suffered a mental health problem
such as depression, anxiety or acute stress in 2007
compared with 20.5 percent the previous year.

The Rand study, completed in January, put the
percentage of PTSD and depression at 18.5 percent,
calculating that approximately 300,000 current and
former service members were suffering from those
problems at the time of its survey, which was completed
in January.

The figure is based on Pentagon data that show more
than 1.6 million military personnel have deployed to
the conflicts since the war in Afghanistan began in
late 2001.

RAND researchers also found:

_About 19 percent, or some 320,000 service members,
reported that they experienced a possible traumatic
brain injury while deployed. In wars where blasts from
roadside bombs are prevalent, the injuries can range
from mild concussions to severe head wounds.

_About 7 percent reported both a probable brain injury
and current PTSD or major depression.

_Only 43 percent reported ever having been evaluated by
a physician for their head injuries.

_Only 53 percent of service members with PTSD or
depression had sought help during the past year.

_They gave various reasons for not getting help,
including that they worried about the side effects of
medication; believe family and friends could help them
with the problem, or that they feared seeking care
might damage their careers.

_Rates of PTSD and major depression were highest among
women and reservists.

The report is titled "Invisible Wounds of War:
Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their
Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery." It was
sponsored by a grant from the California Community
Foundation and done by 25 researchers from RAND Health
and the RAND National Security Research Division, which
also has done work under contracts with the Pentagon
and other defense agencies as well as allied foreign
governments and foundations.

Rebecca Ruiz, "Report: A Million Veterans Injured In Iraq,
Afghanistan Wars," Forbes, November 4, 2013 --

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