Monday, May 21, 2007

Soldiers with PTSD

Today on The American Prospect Online, I have a piece regarding the struggle soldiers go through with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

A recent Army study found that more than one-third of veterans returning Iraq veterans have sought help for PTSD-related symptoms. Beth Hudnall Stamm, director of telehealth and principal investigator of the Institute of Rural Health at Idaho State University, estimates that 6 to 8 percent of veterans suffer from life time PTSD, of which 4 percent are chronic cases. She estimates that anywhere from 6 to 20 percent of this generation of veterans will suffer from some form of PTSD, but other studies suggest that number might be as high as nearly 40 percent.

Clinical and forensic psychologist Saul Rosenberg, who testified at the hearing, envisions a system where solders would be given psychiatric evaluations upon entering the military, to get a baseline, then tested once again upon return from combat operations to flag those who might be at risk for developing PTSD. Psychologists and regular doctors could follow up with these soldiers. Such testing could allow mental health professionals to "identify those at greatest risk;" Rosenberg estimates the initial screenings would cost the government about $60 per returning soldier.

Since so many veterans come to their primary care physicians or go to their local Veterans Administration (VA) hospital with symptoms related to PTSD, Rosenberg said he would like to see the renowned VA computer diagnosis system, VistA, used during regular doctor visits to assist with diagnosis. This would help primary care doctors become educated about PTSD, which many experts view as a normal reaction to abnormal levels of violence or abuse.

Read the whole thing here. (Note: The site requires free registration.)

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