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Troops Returning From Iraq Mentally Ill


By James Donahue

February 2006


The casualty count from Bush’s ill-gained Iraq War is growing not only in the soldiers returning in body bags, but in those coming home mentally and physically scarred for life.


Results of a recent Pentagon report published in USA Today is showing tht more than one in four U.S. troops returning from the Iraq war are suffering from health problems. A large number of these involve mental health scarring.


A report this week in the UK Independent said the same phenomenon is occurring among British troops coming home from the war.


The Pentagon report said nearly 1,700 service men and women returning from the war this year admit harboring thoughts of hurting themselves and many say they would be better off dead. More than 250 said they had such thoughts frequently. An estimated 20,000 say they are suffering nightmares and unwanted war memories. Nearly 4,000 say they worry they might lose control and hurt someone else.


The study by the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, notes that about 28 percent of the Iraq veterans, about 50,000 of them, are coming home with problems ranging from lingering battle wounds to suicidal thoughts and strained marriages.


Statistics involving the UK troops say that at least 1,333 British servicemen and women, or about 1.5 percent of those who served in the war, have returned home with psychiatric problems. Many of these developed problems while still on active duty.


The problems range from post traumatic stress, combat stress, depression and other forms of mental illness, the report said.


The statistics are the first of their kind ever acquired among American troops returning from a war overseas so comparable data from previous wars do not exist. The program was started in 1997 and expanded in 2003 following the medical complaints linked to the 1991 Persian Gulf War.


The Pentagon is seeking to identify all troops in need of care and is screening every service member both before and following overseas war duty.



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