One-third of returning Iraq veterans suffer from head injury or post-traumatic stress syndrome
The entire country is learning more about head injury and PTSD as a result of the war in Iraq. Recent reports document that fully one-third of returning vets suffer from one or both of these serious problems.
The military was completely unprepared to assume the burden of treating the number of head injury casualties generated by the IEDs and repetitive rotations in combat that have resulted from the Iraq war. The result has been an education process for the entire nation--an education process carried out at the expense of returning injured vets.
NPR reported this morning that just during the 10 months from July of '07 to May of '08, six returning GIs died from medication overdoses administered by their physicians. The treatment system did not assign individual GIs a supervising doctor, and in the process of treatment by multiple phyisicians, injured vets were being over-medicated or treated with drugs that were contraindicated in combination.
There have also been many other deaths resulting from some combination of head injury, PTSD, inadequate treatment, self-medicating with alcohol, suicide, and contraindicated drugs. In explaining the problem these vets--and their treaters--faced, it was pointed out that one of the primary treatment facilites in Texas was staffed a year ago with only 30 medical providers: today, under mandates from Congress and the bright light of unfavorable publicity, that facility employs more than 200 providers. The failure to adequately prepare for the war and the presumption that it would be quick and not very lethal, left these veterans to be cared for by a system that lacked both resources and an adequate appreciation for head injury ramifications.
Now many of these veterans face a further challenge in convincing Army bureaucrats that they should be entitled to long-term health care. This is a problem that head-injured insureds in Michigan would readily recognize.