ABC World News reported last night that more and more soldiers are being returned to Iraq for subsequent tours with clear symptoms and often diagnosis of PTSD and on anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication – another depressing example of the toll that this war has taken on our Armed Forces. We’ve known this for a while, but this report caught my attention.
Unfortunately, if the branches who have taken the biggest brunt of the war, the Army and Marines, don’t recruit more soldiers (unlikely to happen, both branches admit severe recruiting challenges), I predict more and more stories like this to continually surface.
“We know the Army is stretched too thin. We know how busy we are. We know we need more forces,” said the Army’s chief psychiatrist, Dr. Elspeth Ritchie to ABC World News.
Ritchie also said she agrees with the recent Rand Report which concluded that roughly 300,000 soldiers have PTSD. However, the Army isn’t tracking how many of those soldiers are being re-deployed.
But, have we deployed soldiers with obvious PTSD in other wars? Not entirely, said former Navy psychiatrist Paul Ragan. Ragen was in in Kuwait during the first Gulf War, said that practices have changed. “Clearly, in 1990, if someone was on antidepressant medication, we sent them back to the United States.”
The ABC segment follows several families who have seen the consequences of deploying soldiers who have active PTSD diagnoses and who are on medication, including one widow whose husband went to Iraq with PTSD from a previous deployment, and committed suicide while in Iraq for a second time.