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One Third of US Troops Suffer from Mental Health Problems

More bad news for the Bush administration in the US. A Defence Department panel has warned that continued engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan is posing a serious challenge on two fronts.

One, soldiers are at an ever greater risk of mental health problems. Second at the current level of staffing and funds, the military health care will not be able to provide those affected necessary statement.

In a damning revelation, the Defense Department's Task Force on Mental Health chaired by Navy Surgeon General Donald Arthur said more than one-third of troops and veterans currently suffer from problems such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Approximately 10% of Soldiers and Marines report mistreating non-combatants (damaged/destroyed Iraqi property when not necessary or hit/kicked a non-combatant when not necessary)," the report said.

"Soldiers that have high levels of anger, experienced high levels of combat or screened positive for a mental health problem were nearly twice as likely to mistreat non-combatants as those who had low levels of anger or combat or screened negative for a mental health problem," it."

Branding Pentagon policies overly conservative and out-of-date, the task force called for more money and a fundamental shift in treatment to focus on prevention and screening, rather than simply relying on soldiers to come forward on their own for treatment.

It pointed out there was a stigma attached to mental health problems and many soldiers feared they would be ridiculed or their careers damaged if they were to acknowledge having problems.

The four-page summary of findings, which will be incorporated in a final report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June, comes amid renewed attention on troop and veterans care following recent disclosures of shoddy outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the premier care facility for soldiers in Washingt
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