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.

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