29 July 2005

Another way Iraq is like Vietnam

The Vietnam war destroyed many American soldiers, and not just those who were killed or injured. Now the same thing may be happening to the troops in Iraq:
Thirty percent of U.S. troops surveyed have developed stress-related mental health problems three to four months after coming home from the Iraq war, the Army's surgeon general said Thursday.

The survey of 1,000 troops found problems including anxiety, depression, nightmares, anger and an inability to concentrate, said Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley and other military medical officials. A smaller number of troops, often with more severe symptoms, were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a serious mental illness.
This should come as no surprise. In general, having people discard much of their socialization and making them kill is going to cause problems. But the level of problems found in Iraq veterans is much higher than expected. A reason for this is suggested at the end of the article:
Ritchie said mental health cases ebb and flow during a war, and suggested they are sometimes connected to a soldier's sense of success of the larger war effort. During the Korean War, cases increased when U.S. forces were losing ground but decreased as the situation improved, she said.
The fallout from this war will last a very long time, in the US as well as in Iraq.

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