The RAND Corporation has just published a new study on the psychological and physical traumas of serving in Iraq and of veterans returning home. It’s entitled Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. Here’s the link to the press release, the summary statement, and the research highlights. You can also check out a round up on Iraq and trauma in my latest Wednesday collection.
The news release carries the title “One In Five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression.” RAND estimates that these returning veterans will have direct and indirect costs of 6.2 billion dollars in the first two years after returning from deployment, to speak nothing of the distress and disruption felt by the servicemen and women and their families and friends. “If PTSD and depression go untreated or are under treated, there is a cascading set of consequences,” [study leader] Lisa Jaycox said. “Drug use, suicide, marital problems and unemployment are some of the consequences. There will be a bigger societal impact if these service members go untreated. The consequences are not good for the individuals or society in general.”
“We need to remove the institutional cultural barriers that discourage soldiers from seeking care,” Terri Tanielian said. “Just because someone is getting mental health care does not mean that they are not able to do their job. Seeking mental health treatment should be seen as a sign of strength and interest in getting better, not a weakness. People need to get help as early as possible, not only once their symptoms become severe and disabling.”
One of their major conclusions: “Improving access to high-quality care can be cost-effective and improve recovery rates.” The emphasis is on high-quality, something that reaches out to veterans and their families, and that is supported by evidence and not simply a feel-good budget moment.