Mental health problems likely to spike as troops return home

This is a photograph of a USA Army Star on a Army green jeep.
News Re U.S. Military

Scientific American, in a feature published June 27, details many of the mental health challenges facing the approximately two million troops who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

During the past three years, more than 30,000 service members have been diagnosed annually with traumatic brain injury. Along with post traumatic stress disorder, mental health problems are causing an increased burden on the military’s health care system.

According to an award winning report from the RAND Corporation in 2008, more than 26 percent of returning soldiers may have mental health disabilities. As shown by research documenting veterans returning from Vietnam and previous wars, these numbers are likely to balloon.

“It is reasonable to expect a continuation of these brain and mental health trends, only multiplied by the anticipated dramatic uptick in returning troops,” the article stated. “On top of that, such issues also tend to crop up several months or even years after service members settle in, rather than directly after homecoming, as researchers learned following America’s wars in the late 20th century.

“A false honeymoon can deceive health care workers and family into a perception that all is well among members of the military reentering society stateside.”

The article coincided with the inaugural National PTSD Awareness Day.