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One Third of US Troops Suffer from Mental Health Problems

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The task force found 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of Marines report psychological concerns such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from deployment.

Among members of the United States National Guard, a component of the army and air foce, the figure is much higher, 49 percent, with numbers expected to grow because of repeated deployments.

"Soldiers and Marines experiencing high levels of combat are three times as likely to screen positive for a mental health problem compared to Soldiers and Marines who experiences relatively low levels of combat," the report says.

Soldiers had lower morale and more mental health problems than their counterparts in the Marine Corps, the report says.

In recent weeks, several U.S. senators have pointed to problems in the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs' mental health care (VA), citing the Army's Fort Carson in Colorado where some troops have said their pleas for mental health care went unanswered or were met with ridicule.

In its report, the task force, which visited 38 military bases in the four armed services within the past year, confirmed many of the lawmakers' fears.

Both the VA and the Pentagon in recent weeks have acknowledged a need to improve mental health treatment. Jan Kemp, a VA associate director for education who works on mental health, has estimated there are up to 1,000 suicides a year among veterans within the VA system, and as many as 5,000 a year among all living veterans.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Joe Lieberman last week proposed legislation that would establish military medical centers dedicated to treating mental illness and brain injuries in troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the legislation, the Pentagon would establish at least two specialized centers designed to lead research, develop treatment standards and train health worke
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