Entries Tagged as 'Military health'

Shadows of dishonor cast on the U.S. military

Kansas City Star
By Donald Bradley and Rick Montgomery
May 20, 2013

A military judge last week found Army Sgt. John Russell guilty of gunning down five fellow soldiers at a base in Iraq.

Victims’ family members hugged and wept at the verdict. Russell stood quietly, head down.

Friends and family say he was “combat stressed” by a third tour. “Snapped,” they say. He should have been sent home.

Prosecutors argued that Russell was angry about not getting a mental disability discharge and took out revenge.

What do you think?

Is the respect that America holds for its military — a pride shown Saturday in Armed Forces Day observances — being undercut by acts of mayhem, a growing sexual abuse scandal and a flurry of other misconduct cases grabbing headlines?

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/19/4244092/shadows-of-dishonor-cast-on-the.html

Ten years after Iraq invasion, US troops ask: ‘Was it worth it?’

NBCNews.com (blog)
By Jim Maceda

Derek Coy hails from Baytown, Texas, and could be a poster child for American veterans of the war in Iraq as they look back and ask: “Was it all worth it?”

A former U.S. Marine sergeant based in the volatile Anbar province at the height of the conflict, Coy is proud of his service and believes the “invaluable tools” he gained as a Marine will ultimately help him succeed in life.

But seven years since he left Iraq, he’s fighting a different battle — against anxiety, depression and emotional numbness — the effects of post-traumatic stress.

“I still struggle, both mentally and physically, with the toll it took on me and countless others do as well,” he said.

Tuesday [March 19, 2013] will mark 10 years since the “shock and awe” invasion and more than a year since the last company of U.S. troops left Iraq. But only about 4 in 10 Americans who fought there — according to a Pew Research Center poll — believe the reasons for going to war justified the loss in blood and treasure.

Almost 4,500 U.S. troops were killed and more than 32,000 wounded, including thousands with critical brain and spinal injuries. Estimates of the number of Iraqi civilian fatalities are staggering, ranging from 100,000 to 600,000. …

Read on: http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/18/17326297-ten-years-after-iraq-invasion-us-troops-ask-was-it-worth-it

US starts landmark cleanup of Agent Orange in Vietnam

Associated Press
By Mike Ives
August 8, 2012

Fifty years after American planes first sprayed Vietnam’s thick jungles with Agent Orange to destroy enemy cover, the United States began for the first time cleaning up dioxin left from the chemical defoliant.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday at a former U.S. air base in Danang.

Dioxin, a chemical linked to cancer, birth defects and other disabilities, has seeped into Vietnam’s soils and watersheds, creating a war legacy that remains a thorny issue between the former foes nearly four decades after the Vietnam War ended.

Washington has been slow to respond. Since 2007 it has given about $60 million for environmental restoration and social services in Vietnam, but this is its first direct involvement in dioxin cleanup. …


U.S. Army Suicides Rising Sharply, Study Finds

MSN Health & Fitness
By Steven Reinberg
March 7, 2012

Service in Iraq and Afghanistan appears to be the cause of increasing mental-health problems

Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose 80 percent from 2004 to 2008, an Army study found.

As many as 40 percent of these suicides may have been linked to combat experience in Iraq, yet nearly a third of the soldiers who committed suicide saw no combat at all, said the researchers, from the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

“Our study confirmed earlier studies by other military researchers that found increased risk of suicide among those who experience mental-health diagnoses associated with the stresses of war,” said lead researcher Michelle Canham-Chervak, a senior epidemiologist with the command.

“This study suggests that an army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental-health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances,” Canham-Chervak said. “By establishing that soldiers who are diagnosed with a mental-health disorder or substance abuse are at greater risk of suicide, we then have a place to target our prevention strategies.”

The report was published in the March 7 online edition of the journal Injury Prevention.

The findings are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Army Behavioral Health Integrated Data Environment, a registry containing information — including consultations, diagnoses and treatment — on suicides from many military sources.

This analysis found that the rates of suicide among Army personnel from 1977 to 2003 were mostly in keeping with trends in the general population, and were actually slightly lower than expected in that 27-year period, the researchers said.

In 2004, however, suicides started to increase. By 2008 they had risen by more than 80 percent, to a rate higher than in the civilian population. …

Read on: http://health.msn.com/health-topics/anxiety/us-army-suicides-rising-sharply-study-finds

Blast-related injuries detected in the brains of U.S. military personnel

Washington University in St. Louis News
By Michael C. Purdy
June 1, 2011

An advanced imaging technique has revealed that some U.S. military personnel with mild blast-related traumatic brain injuries have abnormalities in the brain that have not been seen with other types of imaging.

The abnormalities were found in the brain’s white matter, the wiring system that nerve cells in the brain use to communicate with each other. …

They evaluated 84 U.S. military personnel evacuated to Landstuhl from Iraq and Afghanistan after exposure to many types of explosive blasts. Abnormalities were found in 18 of 63 patients diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, but not among 21 injured in other ways.

Traumatic brain injuries are estimated to have affected as many as 320,000 military personnel in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of these are classified as mild traumatic brain injuries, also known as concussions.

“We call these injuries ‘mild’, but in reality they sometimes can have serious consequences,” says senior author David L. Brody, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. …

Read on: http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/22368.aspx

Potassium Iodide Distributed to US Military Bases in Japan

By Thessa Esclovon
March 23, 2011

As a precautionary measure, the U.S military began issuing out potassium iodide pills at four of its bases located in Japan.

The recipients of the pills, which are prescribed to prevent sickness from exposure to radiation, were informed not to take them unless they received direct orders to do so.

According to command officials, radiation had been detected, Monday afternoon, at low levels. However, the levels were not high enough to pose a threat to the health of the public.

Potassium Iodide is the only medication approved by the FDA to treat an individual contaminated by radioactive iodine. When taken at the right time and in the correct dose, it is extremely successful in reducing the risk of thyroid cancer.

As means to protect military personnel from being contaminated, the U.S. military has restricted them from entering the 50-mile radius surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The military has, also, advised the families on base to shut off all external ventilation and limit the time they spend outdoors.


In 2010, Number Of Suicides Doubled At Largest U.S. Military Base

NPR (Blog)
Eyder Peralta

USA Today reports today that even though the Army has boosted its psychiatric staff and services at the largest military base in the United States, it still hasn’t been able to curb the number of suicides:

The Army says 22 soldiers have either killed themselves or are suspected of doing so last year at its post at Fort Hood in Texas, twice the number from 2009.

That is a rate of 47 deaths per 100,000, compared with a 20-per-100,000 rate among civilians in the same age group and a 22-per-100,000 rate Army-wide.

“We are at a loss to explain the high numbers,” says Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, acting commander. “It’s personally frustrating.”

Last September, alone, four soldiers at Ft. Hood committed suicide in the course of one week. But suicide is, of course, not just a Ft. Hood problem. NPR’s Jamie Tarabay has been following the issue off an on over the past year. In June of 2010, she reported, the number of suicides in the military rivaled that of deaths on the battlefield.

USA Today reports that even though numbers have yet to be finalized, 2010 is bound to be a “record year for Army suicides.”


Up to 250,000 Gulf War vets complain of ‘unexplained symptoms’

Washington Post
By David Brown
April 10, 2010

As many as 250,000 veterans of the first Gulf War “have persistent unexplained medical symptoms” whose cause may never be found, although genetic testing and functional brain imaging may eventually shed some light on the problem.

That is one of the conclusions of a new review of research on the constellation of physical complaints originally known as “Gulf War syndrome” experienced by many soldiers soon after the United States drove invading Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in early 1991.

The review, by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, found that the only illness clearly caused by the Gulf War is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is present in 2 to 15 percent of Gulf War veterans (depending on how it is diagnosed), and about three-times more common in them than in soldiers who served at the same time but were deployed elsewhere.

The 12-member panel of medical experts also found “evidence of an association” between Gulf War service and anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse, dyspepsia, irritable bowl syndrome, and “multisymptom illness” (its term for Gulf War syndrome) although not clearly a causal one.

Among the features of “multisymptom illness” are fatigue, muscle and joint pain, poor sleep, moodiness, lack of concentration, and in some people, skin rash and diarrhea. A survey of 10,000 veterans conducted in 2005 found that 37 percent of those who were in the Gulf had the illness, compared to 12 percent deployed elsewhere.

An increase in vague symptoms and persistent pain has also been seen in some non-American groups, including British troops who served in the Gulf, and Danish peacekeepers who were there after the war.


Despite prevention efforts, U.S. military suicides rise

Stars and Stripes
By Halimah Abdullah, McClatchy Newspapers
January 16, 2010

Eight years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have etched indelible scars on the psyches of many of the nation’s service members, and the U.S. military is losing a battle to stem an epidemic of suicides in its ranks.

Despite calls by top Pentagon officials for a sea change in attitudes about mental health, millions of dollars in new suicide-prevention programming and thousands of hours spent helping soldiers suffering from what often are euphemistically dubbed “invisible wounds,” the military is losing ground.

The Department of Defense Friday reported that there were 160 reported active-duty Army suicides in 2009, up from 140 in 2008. Of these, 114 have been confirmed, while the manner of death in the remaining 46 remains to be determined.

“There’s no question that 2009 was a painful year for the Army when it came to suicides,” said Col. Christopher Philbrick, the deputy director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force, in a statement, despite what he called “wide-ranging measures last year to confront the problem.”

While the military’s suicide rate is comparable to civilian rates, the increase last year is alarming because the armed services traditionally had lower suicide rates than the general population did.

“I look at the numbers of each service, and that rate has gone up at the same rate across the services,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a gathering of military mental health professionals and advocates last week. “This isn’t just a ground force problem.”

Some of the suicides are young men, fresh from deployments and haunted by memories, who shoot themselves after they return from their second or third tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, or when romantic relationships turn sour, sometimes due to long separations or post-traumatic stress.

Others are career officers who quietly nurse addictions to drugs or alcohol and finally decide to silence their ghosts.

An increasing number are female soldiers, who rarely committed suicide before but now are killing themselves at a much higher rate. …


Escalating military suicide crisis prompts U.S. task force

New Jersey Real-Time News
November 22, 2009

… In its simplest terms, the military’s strategy is to reshape the warrior ethos, instilling in service members the idea that mental health is as vital as physical fitness or the ability to aim a rifle.

One important aim is to break down the stigma that has historically stopped soldiers from admitting they’re suffering or suicidal. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, calls the effort a “matter of life and death.” …

More recently, the Army has put in place a program to improve the mental resilience of soldiers based on the research of a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. …

The Marine Corps has taken a similar approach to building better warriors. Over the past several months, 1,000 specially trained sergeants and corporals have traveled to bases across the country, preaching to other noncommissioned officers the importance of watching the men below them, said Cmdr. Aaron D. Werbel, the Corps’ lead psychiatrist and suicide prevention manager. …

For all of the new measures, however, major challenges remain. Not least of them is a drastic shortage of mental health professionals in the military’s ranks. …

The page includes actual statistics and a video.