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Veterans for America Wounded Warrior Outreach Program

'Fort Drum: A Great Burden, Inadequate Assistance'

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- A new, in-depth investigative report released by Veterans for America, documents the toll of repeated, lengthy, and unpredictable deployments on Soldiers stationed at Fort Drum, New York, raising powerful questions about the sustainability of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the past decade, Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division has been one of the Army's most heavily deployed divisions. Since September 11, 2001, Fort Drum's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) is the most deployed brigade in the Army - with more than 40 months logged away from home in that time.

VFA's new report highlights the lack of treatment available to combat Soldiers and presents potential solutions to what the Pentagon acknowledges is a "daunting and growing" problem.

"Sooner or later, and likely sooner, we're going to hit the wall and something will have to change," said Bobby Muller, VFA's founder. "Simple morality and decency demand a change. We cannot continue taking such gross advantage of those who have offered themselves in service to our country."

On their latest Iraq tour, members of the 2nd BCT were more than five times as likely to have been killed than others who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and more than four times as likely to have been wounded. In all, the 2nd BCT has been deployed four times. Pentagon studies have found that a Soldier's chance of developing mental health problems increases 60 percent upon each deployment.

"Soldiers at Fort Drum have been repeatedly exposed to high intensity combat. Mental health resources must match this level of sacrifice," said Jason W. Forrester, one of the report authors.

Multiple Soldiers at Fort Drum informed VFA of low morale on base and rising DUI and AWOL rates. Even when Soldiers had the courage to seek mental health treatment, they often waited as long as two months for appointments with on-base mental health professionals.

As discussed in the previous Veterans for America report - Trends in Treatment of America's Wounded Warriors - VFA has visited every major military facility in and out of the United States. Our work has revealed a military mental health system that is under severe stress. VFA's work at Fort Drum, unfortunately, confirms this.

SOURCE Veterans for America
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