Friday, July 08, 2011

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Peninsula readers' letters: July 8
From Daily News Group readers
Posted: 07/07/2011 04:15:33 PM PDT
Updated: 07/07/2011 11:45:07 PM PDT

Peninsula readers' letters: July 8
From Daily News Group readers
Posted: 07/07/2011 04:15:33 PM PDTUpdated: 07/07/2011 11:45:07 PM PDT
Traumatized vets
Dear Editor: The Obama administration has reversed a long-standing U.S. policy to deny presidential condolence letters to families of soldiers who have committed suicide, saying it hopes to reduce the stigma associated with the mental health costs of war. Service member suicides have increased as some troops serve repeated tours of duty and suffer post-traumatic stress.
Roughly a fifth of troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan experience anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. The rise in psychological trauma associated with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan should not surprise experts. The extent of wartime trauma is directly proportional to the type of warfare fought and the experiences encountered.
There was a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs last year that said 30 suicides are attempted each day by Army veterans, and 18 of them are successful. Studies of Vietnam veterans show that between 26 and 31 percent have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. This rate is understandable given that the Vietnam War combat environment included both guerilla and conventional warfare. It is arguable that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan compare to the Vietnam War, as there is no safe place or enemy lines, and threats surround soldiers on all sides. I work as a volunteer counselor at the VA Hospital in Menlo Park, 17 years as a musician therapist. I worked mostly with Iraq and Vietnam vets. War is hell and I am thankful that Obama is redressing this because it's a small relief valve of the stress that soldiers and their families are feeling.
Ted Rudow III, MA
Palo Alto

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