Soldiers, Mental illness, Drugs and Suicide

Dallas Contact Crisis Line forum to raise awareness of military suicides
March 25, 2010
By DAVID TARRANT

After eight years of war marked by repeated deployments, military families have endured great sacrifices – but few as much as Maj. Gen. Mark Graham.

In June 2003, his 21-year-old son, Kevin, a promising ROTC cadet at the University of Kentucky, killed himself. He had been diagnosed with depression. Eight months later, the general’s oldest son, Jeff, died in Iraq when a bomb exploded while he led a foot patrol.

Graham and his wife, Carol, mourned privately for several years. But as the military struggled with an increase in suicides, the Army couple began telling their story to raise awareness about depression.

“All I knew was that Kevin’s death did not need to be in vain,” Graham said in a telephone interview joined by his wife. “Carol and I both would never want this ever to happen to anyone else.”

Graham is scheduled to speak about military suicides at a luncheon today in Dallas. Contact Crisis Line, the nonprofit 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, is sponsoring the forum at the Hilton Anatole. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, is also scheduled to speak.

Defense Department figures show that 160 active-duty Army personnel committed suicide in 2009 – up from 140 in 2008 and more than double the 77 suicides reported in 2003. The Army suicide rate is now higher than that of civilians. There is no single explanation, Pentagon officials say, but the wear and tear of repeated deployments appears to be a major factor.

“Soldiers are hurting, families are hurting, and it’s a tough time in the Army,” said Graham, deputy chief of staff of Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Ga. “Being in a war eight-plus years – it’s tough.”

Young veterans leaving military service remain at risk. The Veterans Affairs Department said recently that suicides among 18- to 29-year-old veterans have increased considerably – up 26 percent from 2005 to 2007.

In 2005, the suicide rate per 100,000 veterans among men ages 18 to 29 was 44.99, compared with 56.77 in 2007, the VA said.

“Of the more than 30,000 suicides in this country each year, fully 20 percent of them are acts by veterans,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said at a suicide prevention conference in January. “That means on average, 18 veterans commit suicide each day. Five of those veterans are under our care at VA.”

Graham said: “People need to know that you can die from depression. You can die from untreated depression.”

The VA has expanded mental health services to veterans and added 6,000 new mental health professionals since 2005. A 24-hour suicide prevention hotline that started in July 2007 has received 225,000 calls from veterans, active-duty personnel and family members.

But too many soldiers are reluctant to seek help for depression and anxiety because of the stigma attached to mental illness, Graham said. “One of the things we’ve tried to do is to make it clear that it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to come forward and ask for help.”

In 2003, Kevin Graham was attending school while sharing an apartment with his siblings, Jeff and Melanie. His parents were living in South Korea, where the general was assigned.

Kevin was a “tender-hearted” child who wanted to be a doctor, said Carol Graham. At his older brother’s graduation from the University of Kentucky in May, Kevin looked in great physical condition, she said. He was exercising and getting ready for an advanced ROTC camp.

But at some point around then, he stopped taking his medication, apparently too embarrassed to admit to the military that he needed it. “He had told no one in ROTC” that he was taking Prozac, his mother said.

The Grahams feel guilt-ridden over Kevin’s death to this day. “I knew Kevin had been having problems,” Mark Graham said. “But it never even entered my mind that he could die from [depression].”

Painful as it is, the Grahams plan to continue to tell their story.

“It’s hard. It’d be easier to just curl up in a corner and do nothing,” Graham said. “But if it helps just one person not die by suicide, then it’s worth it.”

Source

Medicating the military

Use of psychiatric drugs has spiked; concerns surface about suicide, other dangers
By Andrew Tilghman and Brendan McGarry
March 17, 2010

At least one in six service members is on some form of psychiatric drug.

And many troops are taking more than one kind, mixing several pills in daily “cocktails” — for example, an antidepressant with an antipsychotic to prevent nightmares, plus an anti-epileptic to reduce headaches — despite minimal clinical research testing such combinations.

The drugs come with serious side effects: They can impair motor skills, reduce reaction times and generally make a war fighter less effective. Some double the risk for suicide, prompting doctors — and Congress — to question whether these drugs are connected to the rising rate of military suicides.

“It’s really a large-scale experiment. We are experimenting with changing people’s cognition and behavior,” said Dr. Grace Jackson, a former Navy psychiatrist.

A Military Times investigation of electronic records obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency shows DLA spent $1.1 billion on common psychiatric and pain medications from 2001 to 2009. It also shows that use of psychiatric medications has increased dramatically — about 76 percent overall, with some drug types more than doubling — since the start of the current wars.

THE FULL INVESTIGATION:

Could meds be responsible for suicides?

Downrange: ‘Any soldier can deploy on anything’

How drugs enter the war zone

Troops and military health care providers also told Military Times that these medications are being prescribed, consumed, shared and traded in combat zones — despite some restrictions on the deployment of troops using those drugs.

The investigation also shows that drugs originally developed to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are now commonly used to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as headaches, nightmares, nervousness and fits of anger.

Such “off-label” use — prescribing medications to treat conditions for which the drugs were not formally approved by the FDA — is legal and even common. But experts say the lack of proof that these treatments work for other purposes, without fully understanding side effects, raises serious concerns about whether the treatments are safe and effective.

The DLA records detail the range of drugs being prescribed to the military community and the spending on them:

• Antipsychotic medications, including Seroquel and Risperdal, spiked most dramatically — orders jumped by more than 200 percent, and annual spending more than quadrupled, from $4 million to $16 million.

• Use of anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives such as Valium and Ambien also rose substantially; orders increased 170 percent, while spending nearly tripled, from $6 million to about $17 million.

• Antiepileptic drugs, also known as anticonvulsants, were among the most commonly used psychiatric medications. Annual orders for these drugs increased about 70 percent, while spending more than doubled, from $16 million to $35 million.

• Antidepressants had a comparatively modest 40 percent gain in orders, but it was the only drug group to show an overall decrease in spending, from $49 million in 2001 to $41 million in 2009, a drop of 16 percent. The debut in recent years of cheaper generic versions of these drugs is likely responsible for driving down costs.

Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are the most common mental health medications prescribed to service members. Seventeen percent of the active-duty force, and as much as 6 percent of deployed troops, are on antidepressants, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist, told Congress on Feb. 24.

In contrast, about 10 percent of all Americans take antidepressants, according to a 2009 Columbia University study.

Suicide risks

Many of the newest psychiatric drugs come with strong warnings about an increased risk for suicide, suicidal behavior and suicidal thoughts.

Doctors — and, more recently, lawmakers — are questioning whether the drugs could be responsible for the spike in military suicides during the past several years, an upward trend that roughly parallels the rise in psychiatric drug use.

From 2001 to 2009, the Army’s suicide rate increased more than 150 percent, from 9 per 100,000 soldiers to 23 per 100,000. The Marine Corps suicide rate is up about 50 percent, from 16.7 per 100,000 Marines in 2001 to 24 per 100,000 last year. Orders for psychiatric drugs in the analysis rose 76 percent over the same period.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the newer antidepressants commonly prescribed by the military can cause or worsen suicidal tendancys, aggression and other dangerous mental states,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who testified at the same Feb. 24 congressional hearing at which Sutton appeared.

Other side effects — increased irritability, aggressiveness and hostility — also could pose a risk.

“Imagine causing that in men and women who are heavily armed and under a great deal of stress,” Breggin said.

He cited dozens of clinical studies conducted by drug companies and submitted to federal regulators, including one among veterans that showed “completed suicide rates were approximately twice the base rate following antidepressant starts in VA clinical settings.”

But many military doctors say the risks are overstated and argue that the greater risk would be to fail to fully treat depressed troops.

For suicide, “depression is a big risk factor,” too, said Army Reserve Col. (Dr.) Thomas Hicklin, who teaches clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California. “To withhold the medications can be a huge problem.”

Nevertheless, Hicklin said the risks demand strict oversight. “The access to weapons is a very big concern with someone who is feeling suicidal,” he said. “It has to be monitored very carefully because side effects can occur.”

Defense officials repeatedly have denied requests by Military Times for copies of autopsy reports that would show the prevalence of such drugs in suicide toxicology reports.

‘Then it’s over’

Spc. Mike Kern enlisted in 2006 and spent a year deployed in 2008 with the 4th Infantry Division as an armor crewman, running patrols out of southwest Baghdad.

Kern went to the mental health clinic suffering from nervousness, sleep problems and depression. He was given Paxil, an antidepressant that carries a warning label about increased risk for suicide.

A few days later, while patrolling the streets in the gunner’s turret of a Humvee, he said he began having serious thoughts of suicide for the first time in his life.

“I had three weapons: a pistol, my rifle and a machine gun,” Kern said. “I started to think, ‘I could just do this and then it’s over.’ That’s where my brain was: ‘I can just put this gun right here and pull the trigger and I’m done. All my problems will be gone.’”

Kern said the incident scared him, and he did not take any more drugs during that deployment. But since his return, he has been diagnosed with PTSD and currently takes a variety of psychotropic medications.

Other side effects cited by troops who used such drugs in the war zones include slowed reaction times, impaired motor skills, and attention and memory problems.

One 35-year-old Army sergeant first class said he was prescribed the anticonvulsant Topamax to prevent the onset of debilitating migraines. But the drug left him feeling mentally sluggish, and he stopped taking it.

“Some people call it ‘Stupamax’ because it makes you stupid,” said the sergeant, who asked not to be identified because he said using such medication carries a social stigma in the military.

Being slow — or even “stupid” — might not be a critical problem for some civilians. But it can be deadly for troops working with weapons or patrolling dangerous areas in a war zone, said Dr. John Newcomer, a psychiatry professor at Washington University in St. Louis and a former fellow at the American Psychiatric Association.

“A drug that is really effective and it makes you feel happy and calm and sleepy … might be a great medication for the general population,” Newcomer said, “but that might not make sense for an infantryman in a combat arena.

“If it turns out that people on a certain combo are getting shot twice as often, you would start to worry if they were as ‘heads up’ as they should have been,” Newcomer said. “There is so much on the line, you’d really like to have more specific military data to inform the prescribing.”

Military doctors say they take a service member’s mission into consideration before prescribing.

“Obviously, one would be concerned about what the person does,” said Col. C.J. Diebold, chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. “If they have a desk job, that may factor in what medication you may be recommending for the patient [compared with] if they are out there and they have to be moving around and reacting fairly quickly.”

Off-label use

Little hard research has been done on such unique aspects of psychiatric drug usage in the military, particularly off-label usage.

A 2009 VA study found that 60 percent of veterans receiving antipsychotics were taking them for problems for which the drugs are not officially approved. For example, only two are approved for treating PTSD — Paxil and Zoloft, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But in actuality, doctors prescribe a range of drugs to treat PTSD symptoms.

To win FDA approval, drug makers must prove efficacy through rigorous and costly clinical trials. But approval determines only how a drug can be marketed; once a drug is approved for sale, doctors legally can prescribe it for any reason they feel appropriate.

Such off-label use comes with some risk, experts say.

“Patients may be exposed to drugs that have problematic side effects without deriving any benefit,” said Dr. Robert Rosenheck, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University who studied off-label drug use among veterans. “We just don’t know. There haven’t been very many studies.”

Some military psychiatrists are reluctant to prescribe off-label.

“It’s a slippery slope,” said Hicklin, the Army psychiatrist. “Medication can be overused. We need to use medication when indicated and we hope that we are all on the same page … with that.”

Combination’s of drugs pose another risk. Doctors note that most drugs are tested as a single treatment, not as one ingredient in a mixture of medications.

“In the case of poly-drug use – the ‘cocktail’ — where you are combining an antidepressant, an anticonvulsant, an antipsychotic, and maybe a stimulant to keep this guy awake — that has never been tested,” Breggin said.

Newcomer agreed. “When we go to the literature and try to find support for these complex cocktails, we’re not going to find it,” he said. “As the number of medications goes up, the probability of adverse events like hospitalization or death goes up exponentially.”

Looking for answers

Pinpointing the reasons for broad shifts in the military’s drug use today is difficult. Each doctor prescribes medications for the patient’s individual needs.

Nevertheless, many doctors in and outside the military point to several variables — some unique to the military, some not.

A close look at the data shows that use of the antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs, also known as “mood stabilizers,” are growing much faster than antidepressants. That may correlate to the challenges that deployed troops face when they arrive back home and begin to readjust to civilian social norms and family life.

“The ultimate effect of both of these drugs is to take the heightened arousal — the hypervigilance and all the emotions that served you once you were deployed — and help to turn that back down,” said Dr. Frank Ochberg, former associate director for the National Institute of Mental Health and a psychiatry professor at Michigan State University who reviewed the Military Times analysis.

Dr. Harry Holloway, a retired Army colonel and a psychiatry professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., said the increased use of these medications is simply another sign of deployment stress on the force.

“For a long time, the ops tempo has been completely unrelieved and unrestrained,” Holloway said. “When you have an increased ops tempo, and you have certain scheduling that will make it hard for everyone, you will produce a more symptomatic force. Most commanders understand that and they understand the tradeoffs.” Source

This is a long list. It is an accumulations of things that happen to ordinary people on drugs. Soldiers would have many of the same problems.

There are over 2,000 entries. They include

Suicides, Murders, Robberies, Hostage situations And other health related side affects.

4.8 Million Person Increase in Bipolar Disorder in Last 11 Years: Majority Due to SSRI Use

200,000 a Year Enter Hospital Due to Antidepressant- Induced Mania/ Psychosis: FDA Testimony

A few thousand reasons not to take Drugs

After you read it you may think twice about taking  meds.

Don’t Let the DEA Ban Recommending Medical Marijuana for Veterans

The DEA is preventing doctors at veteran’s hospitals from recommending medical marijuana to patients — even in the 14 states where medical marijuana is legal.

The Veterans Administration is taking advice from the DEA based on the federal government’s assertion that marijuana has no medicinal value. This especially tragic because of the widespread evidence that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder which is all too common among our veterans.

In fact, in New Mexico for example, PTSD is the most common affliction for patients enrolled in the state’s strictly regulated medical marijuana program.

But veterans who could benefit from medical marijuana, regardless of the legality in their own states, have to go outside the VA system and find new doctors just to learn about and try a potentially helpful medicine.

Sign this petition and tell the Obama administration that our veterans deserve better. They deserve to have doctors who practice medicine, not politics. Source

Give them Medical marijuana, it is much safer then pharmaceutical drugs.

Govt Knew Since 1974 Pot Could Cure Cancer


Pot Shows Promise Cure For Cancer


Who profits from WAR?

How Criminals Profit From War

Erroneous Reports Deny our Veterans Benefits

Another Gulf War Syndrome? Burn Pits

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Another Gulf War Syndrome? Burn Pits

Burning trash on bases is sickening soldiers, but the Army refuses to extinguish the burn pits.

By Beth Hawkins

March 17 2010

Before her last deployment, 31-year-old Staff Sergeant Danielle Nienajadlo passed her Army physical with flying colors. So when she started having health problems several weeks after arriving at Balad Air Base in Iraq, no one knew what to make of her symptoms: headaches that kept her awake; unexplained bruises all over her body; an open sore on her back that wouldn’t heal; vomiting and weight loss. In July 2008, after three miserable months, Nienajadlo checked into the base emergency room with a 104-degree fever.

She was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and learned she had been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a fast-progressing form of the disease. She told her doctors and her family she had felt fine until she started inhaling the oily black smoke that spewed out of the base’s open-air trash-burning facility day and night. At times, the plume contained dioxins, some of which can cause the kind of cancer Nienajadlo had.

“She breathed in this gunk,” says her mother, Lindsay Weidman. “She’d go back to the hooch at night to go to bed and cough up these black chunks.”

In the past 17 months, more than 500 veterans have contacted Disabled American Veterans (DAV), a national nonprofit serving vets, to report illnesses they blame on the burn pits. Throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors—many of the burn pits are operated by companies like former Halliburton subsidiary KBR—have dumped hundreds of tons of refuse into giant open-air trenches, doused the piles with fuel, and left them to burn. The trash includes plastic, metal, asbestos, batteries, tires, unexploded ordnance, medical waste, even entire trucks. (The military now operates several actual incinerators and has made efforts to create recycling programs, but the majority of war-zone trash is still burned in pits.)

On Burn Pits Action Center, a website operated by the staff of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.)—who learned of the problem via the reporting of Army Times writer Kelly Kennedy in 2008—GIs describe dumping rat poison, hydraulic fluid, and pressure-treated wood into the pits. “When the question was raised about what we were off-loading for burning, the answer was along the lines of ‘Don’t worry about it as the heat will burn up the bad stuff so it isn’t a threat,'” reported Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class John Wingfield, who served near Balad in 2004 and 2005.

Veterans’ groups worry that the smoke floods bases with a stew of carcinogens, toxins, and lung-clogging fine particles. An Army study released in early 2009 found that particulate matter at 15 sites exceeded both EPA and US military standards. Even short-term exposure could sicken—or kill—service members, the report warns. As early as 2006, an Air Force engineer stationed at Balad warned superiors in a memo that smoke from the burn pits presented “an acute health hazard” for service members. “It is amazing that the burn pit has been able to operate without restrictions over the past several years,” the engineer, Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, wrote. Military statistics also show a steep increase in respiratory problems in troops since the start of the Iraq War.

In a written statement, KBR told Mother Jones that it operates burn pits “pursuant to Army guidelines and regulations.” The military’s own air sampling has turned up dioxins, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and other potential hazards in the air at Balad. The Pentagon has insisted they were at levels that posed no significant threat—though last December, a top military health official acknowledged to the Salt Lake Tribune that smoke from the pits may cause long-term health problems. (Neither Pentagon officials nor the White House responded to requests for comment on this story.)

The government’s reluctance to acknowledge the potential hazard has frustrated veterans’ advocates, who remember how long it took for the Pentagon to recognize Gulf War Syndrome in the 1990s, and to acknowledge the health problems caused by aerial spraying during the Vietnam War. “We don’t want another Agent Orange,” says John L. Wilson, DAV’s assistant national legislative director. “Silence does not do any good.”

If the pits are harming troops and Iraqis, there’s no telling how many. Many cancers won’t reveal themselves for a decade or more, and many respiratory symptoms tend to be misdiagnosed as asthma. Like Nienajadlo, Air Force Reserve Lt. Colonel Michelle Franco, 48, had a clean bill of health when she shipped out to Balad three years ago. The 18-foot walls surrounding her quarters kept out mortar fire, but not the smoke: “You could smell it; you could taste it.” As a nurse, Franco suspected the “plume crud” was hazardous. She knew that in addition to amputated limbs from her medical facility, the base’s waste included hundreds of thousands of water bottles every week—and she knew burning plastic releases cancer-causing dioxins. After just five months at the base, Franco sustained permanent lung damage. She’s lucky, she says, that she kept asking questions when harried doctors handed her an inhaler. She expects her diagnosis—untreatable reactive airway dysfunction syndrome—to ultimately push her into retirement.

Many vets won’t realize that their illness might be service related, notes Franco. But official recognition is key to get them proper screening and benefits. Last fall, Rep. Bishop managed to pass legislation limiting the military’s freedom to burn waste and directing the Pentagon to do a study on the pits’ health effects. Given that this may take years, Bishop is also calling for an Agent Orange-like registry of those at risk.

Meanwhile a DC-based law firm, Burke LLC (which has also pursued claims for Abu Ghraib torture victims and Iraqi civilians killed by Blackwater guards), has filed suit against Halliburton and KBR on behalf of about 300 injured veterans and their survivors; the firm estimates that some 100,000 people have been exposed. “These troops were more injured by the smoke and the toxins than by combat,” says attorney Elizabeth Burke.

Staff Sergeant Nienajadlo died March 20, 2009, exactly 13 years from the day she enlisted. She left behind three children, ages 3, 8, and 10, and a husband who is also in the service. Before she fell ill, Nienajadlo confided to her mother that she was scared of serving in Iraq. But she worried about mortar attacks and roadside bombs—not the Army’s own trash.

Source

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Here is another story of interest on Military Personnel, used in experiments.

Be sure to check it out. Definitely everyone should know about it.

Uncle Sam’s Human Lab Rats

Rather reminds me of “Deadly Allies” By John Bryden.  Great Book. Do read it if you ever have the chance.

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Traumatic brain injuries the signature wound of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

Troops with brain injuries face other possible problems

December  5 2008

Traumatic brain injuries have become the signature wound of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and troops who sustain them face a daunting array of potential medical consequences later on, says a report on the issue commissioned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The report from the Institute of Medicine – a body that advises the U.S. government on science, medicine and health – said military personnel who sustain severe or even moderate brain injuries may go on to develop Alzheimer’s-like dementia or symptoms similar to Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease.

They face a higher risk of developing seizure disorders and psychoses, problems with social interactions and difficulty holding down a job. Troops who sustain even mild brain injuries are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And all are at a higher risk of experiencing aggressive behaviour, depression and memory problems.

The report urged the U.S. government to ramp up research in the area, saying there isn’t enough evidence in the medical literature – especially as relates to mild brain injuries – to determine what today’s troops face and how best to help them recover from or cope with the health problems they may develop.

“The more severe the injury, the more likely there are to be bad long-term outcomes,” Dr. George Rutherford, chair of the panel that produced the report, acknowledged in an interview from Washington.

But Rutherford said that brain injuries don’t have to be severe or involve penetration of the skull to set up a soldier for significant health consequences.

“If you have a traumatic brain injury – especially if it’s moderate or severe – you have some chance of developing a disease down the line that you would not have developed otherwise,” said Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

“For mild brain injuries, which is a much bigger group of injuries and it has a much broader scope, what we can say is for those kinds of injuries that there’s a probable association between having one of those – especially with loss of consciousness – and having depression, having aggressive behaviour … or having persistent post-concussive symptoms.”

“Like memory loss, like headaches, like dizziness.”

The panel read 1,900 studies on brain injuries looking for evidence of what troops who suffer brain injuries might face. But most of the studies relate to injuries suffered in car crashes and sports. The report says the injury picture could look different for troops who may also develop post-traumatic stress disorder from experiences in combat and that more research is needed.

The report noted that as of January 2008, more than 5,500 U.S. military personnel had suffered traumatic brain injury in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the widespread use against them of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

A similar Canadian figure for troops deployed to Afghanistan is not available, Maj. Andre Berdais, a senior public affairs officer with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group, said via email.

Berdais said that kind of data is not tracked by the Department of National Defence, as it isn’t “essential in supporting our primary responsibility of patient care.”

But New Democrat MP Dawn Black, who has pressed the issue as a member of the House of Commons’ defence committee, said these injuries are a growing problem among Canadian troops.

“The rates are going up,” Black said from Ottawa. “Intuitively we know. But we also know from anecdotal evidence from people in the field.”

Black said the problem was put on her radar by soldiers and their families. “I’ve met with some of them and seen it. I’ve met with some of the families and seen it.”

The force of an explosion can induce what is essentially a concussion in the brain, sending it ricocheting around within the confines of the skull.

The damage caused by even a mild brain injury can take six months to heal, said Dr. Donald Stuss, a brain expert and vice-president of research at the Rotman Research Institute of Toronto’s Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.

Injury can be done to different parts of the brain, triggering a variety of problems. But Stuss stressed that after-effects – or whether there are any long-term problems – will vary from person to person.

“So you may end up having somebody with a head injury who recovers perfectly and then afterwards has tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness from inner ear problems…. You may have some who end up with long-term memory problems,” he said.

Stuss said the key is to identify people with the problem and start treating them quickly.

The Forces’ Berdais said troops who have been exposed to explosions and may have suffered blast-induced injuries are screened for traumatic brain injury. Those found to be suffering from it are removed from active duty while they are symptomatic to prevent the risk of a repeat injury that could compound the insult on the brain.

And he said the Canadian Forces’ new physical rehabilitation program is in the process of developing policies and procedures for troops who continue to show symptoms of traumatic brain injury despite having received care.

Psychologist Gerrit Groeneweg, executive director of Calgary’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, said people suffering lingering problems from traumatic brain injuries can benefit from being taught coping techniques – strategies for improving memory and training to help overcome problems with attention.

But finding out how to best treat traumatic brain injuries among troops remains a challenge, said Dr. Greg Passey, a psychiatrist with Vancouver Coastal Health Services who spent 22 years in the Canadian Forces and who now specializes in treating PTSD.

“We don’t have a really clear understanding of what the potential long-term effects are,” Passey said.

“Because some of our soldiers have been exposed – they’re getting blown up more than one time. And although they don’t have significant outward physical injuries, you can certainly develop things like post-traumatic stress disorder or other types of psychological or psychiatric disorders.”

Source

Those who go to war can suffer so many different problems.

There is  Depleted Uranium, which caused many problems. Then  you have  LandminesCluster Bombs and other types of bombs and there are many. Many types of weapons could be deafening or deadly.

Troops can be exposed to so many things.  If or when they come home they need the best treatment and deserve it.

They should not be ignored as the ones from the First Gulf war. It took  17 years for the US to say well yes they are sick. There is such a thing as Gulf War Syndrome. Well 17 years is too long for any soldier to wait.

The US however will not stop using  Depleted UraniumLandminesCluster Bombs.   They say they have a purpose. The only purpose of these weapons are to kill and they kill long after the wars are over.

Other countries are in the process of eliminating these weapons however. Those who refuse to stop using them are the ones, who need to be pressured into stopping their use.

Of course troops  going to war in any country with the US will be exposed to these types of weapons. What a shame.

If I am not mistaken the first two British soldiers to die in Kosovo were killed by a cluster bomb. If they had not been used those two soldiers may still be alive today.

In the Old Days they had something called Shell Shock
“By 1914 British doctors working in military hospitals noticed patients suffering from “shell shock”. Early symptoms included tiredness, irritability, giddiness, lack of concentration and headaches. Eventually the men suffered mental breakdowns making it impossible for them to remain in the front-line. Some came to the conclusion that the soldiers condition was caused by the enemy’s heavy artillery. These doctors argued that a bursting shell creates a vacuum, and when the air rushes into this vacuum it disturbs the cerebro-spinal fluid and this can upset the working of the brain.

Some doctors argued that the only cure for shell-shock was a complete rest away from the fighting. If you were an officer you were likely to be sent back home to recuperate. However, the army was less sympathetic to ordinary soldiers with shell-shock. Some senior officers took the view that these men were cowards who were trying to get out of fighting.”

Well many today are still called Cowards because, they become mentally ill. When will that ever change?

Many are still being sent back to war, that should not be sent back.  War caused problems mental and physical. It always has and it always will. This problem is not new, but very old indeed.

They are still exposed to many dangers. They are not cowards they are sick. War makes people sick.

They need all the understanding and help they can possibly get.

They should never be ignored.  Their needs are very real.

Governments cannot hide the truth forever.  Someone is always watching.

Canadian Forces not tracking incidence of brain injuries, hearing loss

Elusive threats boost PTSD risk in Afghanistan

Gov’t Study Concludes “Gulf War Syndrome” is Legitimate Condition, Affects 1 in 4 Vets