Mentally Ill Troops Sent Into Combat?

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Ralph
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Mentally Ill Troops Sent Into Combat?

Post by Ralph » Sun May 14, 2006 6:54 am

Report: Mentally ill troops forced into combat
Military not following own rules on deployment, paper says

HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) -- U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported in its Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

In 1997, Congress ordered the military to assess the mental health of all deploying troops. The newspaper, citing Pentagon statistics, said fewer than 1 in 300 service members were referred to a mental health professional before shipping out for Iraq as of October 2005.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year. That number accounts for nearly one in five of all noncombat deaths and was the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

The paper reported that some service members who committed suicide in 2004 or 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

Commanders, not medical professionals, have final say over whether a troubled soldier is retained in a war zone. Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the Army's top mental health expert, and other military officials said they believe most commanders are alert to mental health problems and are open to referring troubled soldiers for treatment.

Ritchie acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage.

"The challenge for us ... is that the Army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge," she said. "And so we have to weigh the needs of the Army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers' personal needs."

Ritchie insisted the military works hard to prevent suicides, but it is a challenge because every soldier has access to a weapon.

"I'm concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country," said Arthur S. Blank Jr., a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

Maj. Andrew Efaw, a judge advocate general officer in the Army Reserves who handled trial defenses for soldiers in northern Iraq last year, said commanders don't want to send mentally ill soldiers into combat.

"But on the other hand, [the com mender] doesn't want to send a message to his troops that if you act up, he's willing to send you home," Efaw said.
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John Bleau
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Post by John Bleau » Sun May 14, 2006 7:37 am

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav

But, of course, Tom Cruise is a nutcase for saying that Brooke Shields should be getting some air and exercise instead of taking them, right?

jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 14, 2006 7:49 am

When I was a child first learning about US history, I often had for whatever naive reason the notion that we would always have to be at war because that's the only way to know how to do war. A peacetime army lasting for generations, even one well equipped and trained, such as Switzerland has seemed somehow not to do the trick.

As I matured during the Vietnam era, I began to realize how wrong I was. Perpetual war for the sake of knowing how to make war, I thought, may have made sense to the ancient Spartans, but it could not ultimately be the fate of the United States, however warlike our past had been. Noble institutions born of great conflicts would fade into historic curiosities like the vestiges of European royalty, I thought, leaving behind a record of the magnitude of human accomplishment mitigated only by the shadow of its cost. A present of general prosperity and welfare, won at the price of a problematic grandeur.

How wrong I was.

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Post by Teresa B » Sun May 14, 2006 10:18 am

jbuck, I think you didn't take into account the foibles of human nature those years ago when you had that illusion of grandeur arising from the ashes of war. War begets misery--and even though it may be necessary in cases of human persecution, etc, I fear the grandeur fades all too quickly back into the misery because of the human condition.

Sending soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental illnesses beck into the war zone strikes me as unconscionable. The point about giving them antidepressant drugs or not is in another arena. Whether or not they are taking medication, or whether or not it could increase suicide risk, they should not be put back in the combat situation that caused their illness.

Teresa
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jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 14, 2006 1:18 pm

I do deal with this daily, if on an indirect basis. Most of my student's parents are deployed in Iraq.

I am reminded of the scene in the movie Patton where the soldier is slapped because he is suffering "only" from shell shock (actually Patton slapped two soldiers in separate incidents). The soldier who is portrayed in the movie later on claimed that Patton had slapped him back into his senses, as was intended. Wonderful. Tell that to my mother, whose tank soldier first husband came back from WW II and after lingering with what we now know to be PTSD eventually took his own life.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 14, 2006 2:11 pm

jbuck919 wrote: A peacetime army lasting for generations, even one well equipped and trained, such as Switzerland has seemed somehow not to do the trick.
:roll: And just when was the last war Switzerland was in? The 30 Years War?

I've been impressed with the training that the US military goes thru. For example, all of the tank crews in the 2 gulf wars said their training was much harder than actual combat. Having just finished Haney's Inside Delta Force, I am amazed that they train constantly and use feed back from men in combat to adjust their training. Keep in mind that American soldiers are stationed all over the world as advisors so they are constantly inputting information from experience to alter the training. The US doesn't actually have to be in a war to benefit from the lessons learned produced by war.
Noble institutions born of great conflicts would fade into historic curiosities like the vestiges of European royalty, I thought, leaving behind a record of the magnitude of human accomplishment mitigated only by the shadow of its cost. A present of general prosperity and welfare, won at the price of a problematic grandeur.


:roll: You're doing it again, John.
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Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Sun May 14, 2006 5:49 pm

Is anyone surprised by this story?

Do you think Cheney and Bush care at all about this?

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Post by Ralph » Sun May 14, 2006 7:45 pm

John Bleau wrote:"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav

But, of course, Tom Cruise is a nutcase for saying that Brooke Shields should be getting some air and exercise instead of taking them, right?
*****

Hi John,

I got a mangled voice message from you several weeks ago and the phone number was indecipherable. Do call back - I'd like to hear from you.

Tom Cruise is nuts!
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Re: Mentally Ill Troops Sent Into Combat?

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 15, 2006 12:56 am

AP wrote:Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the Army's top mental health expert, and other military officials said they believe most commanders are alert to mental health problems and are open to referring troubled soldiers for treatment.
Of course they are! Suicidal soldiers are a threat to unit readiness and effectivity. Some guys, not all, don't bounce back after a break from the stress. Most do. The ones that don't have got to be transferred out.
"I'm concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country," said Arthur S. Blank Jr., a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War.
:roll: Whaddaya wanna bet the guy's opposed to the war? Of course it has happened in all wars if for no other reason than few military had any appreciation for the extent of the problem before WW1.
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Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 15, 2006 12:57 am

Lilith wrote:Is anyone surprised by this story?

Do you think Cheney and Bush care at all about this?
Does anyone here think you care except as an excuse to wise off about Bush and Cheney one more time?
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Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Mon May 15, 2006 5:07 pm

You really are a cold fish Corlyss - as cold as they come. All logic, no heart whatsover. Like Cheney. What a duo you two would make.
Last edited by Lilith on Mon May 15, 2006 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Lilith » Mon May 15, 2006 5:28 pm

And it really doesn't matter what I think, does it Corlyss? I can't do anything about it even though I do care about this - and I care about sending Natl Guard units back for 2nd and 3rd tours of duty. Its outragious.
BUT IT DOES MATTER IF BUSH OR CHENEY CARED, doesn't it Corlysss. BECAUSE THEY COULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, couldn't they, Corlyss.

So stop the personal and meaningless attacks and address the issue Corlyss and tell us why you support putting mentally ill soldiers on the front line. TELL US CORLYSS.

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Post by pizza » Tue May 16, 2006 3:03 am

Yeah, Corlyss, stop the personal and meaningless attacks, you cold fish -- all logic and no heart whatsoever -- tell us why you support putting mentally ill soldiers on the front line, Corlyss. We know you do, Corlyss. You can't fool us, Corlyss. Tell us, Corlyss -- tell us -- isn't it obvious you support such outrageous practices, Corlyss? -- it's only too clear that you do because you haven't done anything to stop it, Corlyss. Why haven't you done anything to stop it, Corlyss?

You're no better than Bush and Cheney, Corlyss -- but at least they have an excuse -- they're busy all day torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, Corlyss, and listening in to all our telephone conversations, Corlyss, and then they're off to the Pentagon to decide which mentally stressed soldiers should be sent to the front lines, Corlyss. That still leaves them about an hour a week to conduct other business, Corlyss. But what's your excuse, Corlyss?

TELL US, CORLYSS. TELL US.

Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Tue May 16, 2006 6:53 am

Pizza- are you the new Corlyss spokesperson?
TELL US, PIZZA, TELL US

pizza
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Post by pizza » Tue May 16, 2006 7:22 am

Lilith wrote:Pizza- are you the new Corlyss spokesperson?
TELL US, PIZZA, TELL US
Huh? I just wanted to hear Corlyss' excuse. I already know yours: :? :? :? :? :?

Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Tue May 16, 2006 7:35 am

"Huh?" Can't a lawyer do better than that? :lol: :lol: :lol:

pizza
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Post by pizza » Tue May 16, 2006 7:54 am

When dealing with those who are certifiably confused, anything better isn't necessary. :P But it's good that you caught the humor in it: " :lol: :lol: :lol: " Even a rudimentary sense of humor in a die-hard leftist ideologue is rare. :wink:

Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Tue May 16, 2006 8:30 am

I understand how badly you need the last post, so if you would like to post one more time, you will have it.

And, no, you don't have to thank me. :wink:

pizza
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Post by pizza » Tue May 16, 2006 8:54 am

One more time? Your kindness knows no bounds. :shock: I'm sure Corlyss will have the last word!

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