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Report Finds Gaps in Health Services for U.S. Veterans
Date:3/31/2010

earch on the readjustment needs of veterans, their families and the communities they return to. Research should examine such issues as the social and economic effects of multiple deployments on families, including domestic violence and maltreatment of children, and "culturally sensitive treatment approaches" for minorities.
  • Prepare for the long-term needs of returning veterans with multiple traumas and traumatic brain injuries, including likely complications and rehabilitation services.
  • Recruit more mental health professionals to help veterans deal with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), depression, substance abuse and other issues that many face.
  • Reduce the stigma within the military community of mental health treatment.
  • Examine whether the mental health needs of female veterans are being met, including treatment for sexual harassment and assault. Women now constitute 14 percent of deployed U.S. forces, the report said.
  • Consider a so-called "third-location decompression" program, which would involve sending military personnel to some location to readjust to a non-combat environment before returning home to their families.
  • "We wanted to identify physical and mental health and other readjustment needs of veterans and their families," Wu said. "We also wanted to see what the gaps were."

    The gaps, he said, included an abundance of mental health issues. "There are at least 40,000 cases of PTSD," Wu said, as well as depression, substance abuse and suicide among returning veterans.

    There are also social outcomes, Wu said, including financial hardships, unemployment, homelessness, domestic violence, marital problems and mistreatment of children. Caregivers are stressed from taking care of injured family members, he said. And many veterans, particularly reservists and members of the National Guard, return to find that their old job wasn't held for them and they have trouble finding a n
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