The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Mental health is No. 1 reason women troops are medically evacuated, report finds

Upon first reading of the article below, I was concerned about “another” article citing the weakness of women and stating that they have no business going to war.  However, after reading the entire article, I am less concerned.  It appears that sexual assault along with all the issues of battle cause women to falter.  It’s a shame that our government is unable to provide safety for the troops, even on their own bases.

The fact that women can go to war and can complete the mission despite dealing with additional stressors unknown to their male counterparts says quite a lot about the strength and determination of these female soldiers.  We certainly should be trying to help them when they return home, just as we help our male soldiers deal with post traumatic stress issues.

This article is from NextGov.com and if you visit the site, you will find many article similar to this.

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By Bob Brewin 03/30/2011

This is the ninth story in an ongoing series.

Mental health disorders, not battlefield wounds, were the leading cause of medical evacuations of women troops from Afghanistan and Iraq between October 2001 and September 2010, the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center said in a report this month.

The center said 7,586 women were medevaced from the two theaters in the decade covered by its study, with 14.6 percent, or 1,104, evacuated for mental disorders and only 2.7 percent, or 207, for battle injuries.

During that same period, 54,501 men were medevaced from the two war zones — 11,504, or 21.2, percent, for battle injuries and 5,806, or 10.7 percent, for mental disorders.

Read the entire Broken Warriors series.The large number of evacuations of women for mental disorders probably reflects trauma caused by sexual assault, even though the report did not cite this as a specific reason, according to Mark Kaplan, professor of community health at Portland State University in Oregon.

He said a recent report by the Oregon Legislature shows 15 percent of women veterans are victims of sexual assault.

Women in combat zones bear an extra burden, he said, as they try to show the same kind of stoicism and mental detachment they believe their male colleagues exercise, which leads to further stress.

Mental disorders, according to the report, cover a range of conditions, including adjustment reactions and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The report on medevacs for mental health disorders dovetails with a report the center released in December 2010 that showed the Defense Department has diagnosed 767,290 active-duty military personnel as suffering from mental health disorders.

Veterans Affairs Department data complied this month shows that among the 625,834 Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans enrolled in the VA health care system as of last December, 313,670 were treated for mental health conditions.

More than 2 million military personnel have served in the two theaters, and only 2.7 percent of them have been medically evacuated.

The report cautioned that direct comparisons between numbers and proportions of medical evacuations by cause or between men and women can be misleading as they do not take into account differences in age, military specialty and location while deployed.

The report also pointed out that that since 2007, the proportion of evacuations for battle injuries increased while the proportion due to mental disorders remained stable. But during the same time period, evacuations from Iraq for battle injuries sharply decreased while the proportion of evacuations for mental disorders rose.

The recent increases in mental disorder evacuations from Iraq, the report said might reflect increased awareness of mental health issues and combat stress disorders.

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April 8, 2011 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , , ,

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