War Is Hell
by Ted Rudow III Thursday, 07 July 2011
The Obama administration has reversed a longstanding 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 Veterans Department in 2010 that 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 PTSD. 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, no enemy lines, and threats surround the soldier on all sides. I work as a volunteer Counselor at the VA Hospital in Menlo Park, CA for 17 years as a musician therapist. I worked mostly with Iraqi and Vietnam Vets. War is hell and I'm thankful that Obama redress this because it’s a small relief valve of the stress that soldiers and their families are feeling.