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Study Reports High Numbers of U.S. Soldiers Suffering From Mental Illnesses

Update Date: Mar 08, 2013 12:32 PM EST

Despite increasing efforts to help soldiers deal with mental illnesses arising from combat and other duties, the army still has yet to implement a successful and efficient way in helping soldiers. A new report revealed that even though the army has doubled its amount of behavioral health professionals, the number of mental illness cases has not dwindled. Researchers of the report found that the army has to deal with numerous factors that are hindering its progress. The amount of paperwork, the inconsistency behind the training of the professionals, and the use of different guidelines make it very difficult for these soldiers to receive quality care for their conditions. The task force behind this report also revealed several other factors that need to be fixed in order for the army to be more effective in caring for its soldiers and their mental health.

The army created a task force last May to review the army's job at evaluating the mental state of soldiers. The task force also reported these alarming rates of mental illnesses that are being ignored due to the system. New reports revealed that the number of soldiers' deaths from suicides is catching up rapidly to the number of combat deaths, stressing the importance of medical care for these soldiers. Over the past decade and into future years, the number of suicide deaths might actually add up to surpass the number of combat deaths. The task force was created after Democratic Senator Patty Murray from Washington expressed his concerns over the fact that hundreds of soldiers' diagnoses were reversed. These soldiers at the Madigan Army Medical Center had their medical and monetary benefits cut as a result of the reversal of their initial Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnoses.

The task force reviewed over 140,000 records and interviewed 750 people stationed globally. The research team found that 4.1 percent of soldiers deployed ended up getting diagnosed with PTSD or traumatic brain injury. The report stated that 6,400 solders experienced behavioral complications. The task force prompted the reviews of all soldiers' diagnoses from Oct 2011 to April 2012.

"I am pleased that the Army completed this review and has vowed to make fixes over the next year, though I am disappointed it has taken more than a decade of war to get to this point," the senator stated.

The new report listed several problems that need to be addressed and advised new programs that needed to be implemented right away. Some of these recommendations, such as compiling a universal electronic health record, making access to health facilities easier, and creating a consistent and standard way of diagnosing patients. The report will hopefully help the army develop a more efficient way of helping soldiers. 

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