TUESDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Timely and adequate health care is needed to help U.S. military personnel and their families readjust to life after deployment, an Institute of Medicine report finds.
The departments of defense and veterans affairs also must step up efforts to reduce the stigma associated with receiving care for mental health and substance abuse problems, the report said. They also should ensure their methods of diagnosis and treatment are in line with the latest medical evidence, according to the report, which was requested by Congress.
"Although several federal agencies are actively trying to address the support needs of current and former service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their families, the response has been slow and has not matched the magnitude of this population's requirements as many cope with a complex set of health, economic and other challenges," report committee chairman George Rutherford said in an Institute of Medicine news release.
"The number of people affected, the influx of returning personnel as the conflicts wind down and the potential long-term consequences of their service heighten the urgency of putting the appropriate knowledge and resources in place to make re-entry into post-deployment life as easy as possible," Rutherford said.
More than 2.2 million U.S. troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, incurring more than 48,000 injuries and 6,600 deaths. Many troops have readjusted well to life after deployment, but 44 percent have reported difficulties since returning home, according the report.
A significant percentage have suffered traumatic brain injuries, and many have shown symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance misuse or abuse, the report noted.
To better serve these troops, the Institute of Medicine, which is charged with providing policy makers, health care professionals and the public with independent, evidence-based advice, also concluded that:
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has more about military and veterans' health care.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: U.S. Institute of Medicine, news release, March 26, 2013
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