The Army plans to hire roughly 200 additional mental health workers to help care for ailing soldiers. Thirty-five percent of troops seek mental health care a year after coming home and between 15 and 20 percent of soldiers in Iraq show signs of post-traumatic stress. The latest Pentagon study found military mental health care to be inadequate.
The new hiring, which [Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general] said could begin immediately, is part of a wider plan of action the Army has laid out to improve health care to wounded or ill veterans and their families. It also comes as the Defense Department completes a wider mental health study—the latest in a series over recent months that has found services for troops have been inadequate.
Ritchie said long and repeat deployments caused by extended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are causing more mental strain on troops. “At the time that the war began, I don’t think anybody anticipated how long it would be going on,” she said.
Surveys of troops in Iraq have shown that 15 percent to 20 percent of Army soldiers have signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress, which can cause flashbacks of traumatic combat experiences and other severe reactions.