One in 5 Afghanistan, Iraq vets has PTSD

A study released today by the Rand Corporation finds that nearly 20 percent of military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. For those interested in the math, that’s some 300,000 soldiers. Only slightly more than half have sought treatment, telling researchers that they feared doing so ...

A study released today by the Rand Corporation finds that nearly 20 percent of military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. For those interested in the math, that's some 300,000 soldiers. Only slightly more than half have sought treatment, telling researchers that they feared doing so would harm their careers. Here are some highlights from the first large-scale, nongovernmental assessment of the psychological and cognitive needs of military service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past six years:

19 percent of returning service members report that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed7 percent report both a probable brain injury and current PTSD or major depressionThe study estimates that about 320,000 service members may have experienced a traumatic brain injury during deployment, from mild concussions to severe penetrating head wounds. Yet, just 43 percent reported ever being evaluated by a physician for that injuryHalf of service members say they had a friend who was seriously wounded or killed45 percent report that they saw dead or seriously injured non-combatantsOver 10 percent say they were injured themselves and required hospitalization

The Rand study is highly focused on the monetary societal costs of PTSD and depression among returning service members. The study asserts that, in the 2 years after deployment, these injuries will cost the United States between $6,000 to more than $25,000 per case, or as much as $6.2 billion in total. Of course, an equally high cost is being borne by the families and loved ones of these soldiers. Sadly, it's unlikely anyone will ever be able to quantify that.

A study released today by the Rand Corporation finds that nearly 20 percent of military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. For those interested in the math, that’s some 300,000 soldiers. Only slightly more than half have sought treatment, telling researchers that they feared doing so would harm their careers. Here are some highlights from the first large-scale, nongovernmental assessment of the psychological and cognitive needs of military service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past six years:

  • 19 percent of returning service members report that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed
  • 7 percent report both a probable brain injury and current PTSD or major depression
  • The study estimates that about 320,000 service members may have experienced a traumatic brain injury during deployment, from mild concussions to severe penetrating head wounds. Yet, just 43 percent reported ever being evaluated by a physician for that injury
  • Half of service members say they had a friend who was seriously wounded or killed
  • 45 percent report that they saw dead or seriously injured non-combatants
  • Over 10 percent say they were injured themselves and required hospitalization

The Rand study is highly focused on the monetary societal costs of PTSD and depression among returning service members. The study asserts that, in the 2 years after deployment, these injuries will cost the United States between $6,000 to more than $25,000 per case, or as much as $6.2 billion in total. Of course, an equally high cost is being borne by the families and loved ones of these soldiers. Sadly, it’s unlikely anyone will ever be able to quantify that.

More from Foreign Policy

Soldiers of the P18 Gotland Regiment of the Swedish Army camouflage an armoured vehicle during a field exercise near Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland on May 17.
Soldiers of the P18 Gotland Regiment of the Swedish Army camouflage an armoured vehicle during a field exercise near Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland on May 17.

What Are Sweden and Finland Thinking?

European leaders have reassessed Russia’s intentions and are balancing against the threat that Putin poses to the territorial status quo. 

Ukrainian infantry take part in a training exercise with tanks near Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Ukraine, less than 50 miles from the front lines, on May 9.
Ukrainian infantry take part in a training exercise with tanks near Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Ukraine, less than 50 miles from the front lines, on May 9.

The Window To Expel Russia From Ukraine Is Now

Russia is digging in across the southeast.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken participate in a virtual summit with the leaders of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue countries at the White House in Washington on March 12.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken participate in a virtual summit with the leaders of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue countries at the White House in Washington on March 12.

Why China Is Paranoid About the Quad

Beijing has long lived with U.S. alliances in Asia, but a realigned India would change the game.

Members of the National Defence Training Association of Finland attend a training.
Members of the National Defence Training Association of Finland attend a training.

Finns Show Up for Conscription. Russians Dodge It.

Two seemingly similar systems produce very different militaries.