In the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND), 6,830 service members have been killed and 52,309 service members injured as of January 6, 2015.
Estimates indicate that around 18-22 veterans commit suicide every day. Suicide has outpaced traffic accidents, heart disease, cancer, homicide and all other forms of death in the military besides combat. Interestingly, only one-third of those who have died by suicide during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan had been deployed. Deployment itself is not an independent risk factor for suicide, and there are other non-deployment related risk factors for suicide in the military.
Considered a signature wound of the post-9/11 conflicts, PTSD arises in response to directly experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Rates of PTSD among post-9/11 service members are estimated to be between 20-30%. The other signature wound, TBI, has rates around 20%.
Military Sexual Trauma has been described as a particularly devastating type of sexual trauma given the cohesiveness and loyalty of the military community. MST survivors often link it to incest within the family and studies have shown a link with increased incidence of PTSD.
The most common reasons Americans volunteer for active duty military service include the desire to belong to a larger cause, opportunities for travel and education, and patriotism.
All three branches of the military have core values that are the guiding principles for how the branch operates. For example, the Army’s core values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.
Although PTSD and TBI receive the most attention as signature wounds of the post-9/11 conflicts, mental health disorders such as chronic pain and substance abuse are also common within military personnel.
Moral injury refers to an injury to the conscience that occurs when people act against their values. Whereas PTSD has traditionally been associated with feelings of fear and anxiety, moral injury refers more to shame and regret over one’s actions.
Though there are some symptoms that are specific to each disorder, there is considerable overlap in the symptoms of PTSD and TBI. For example, both disorders are associated with concentration difficulties, sleep disturbance, isolation, and difficulty controlling emotions.
All branches of the service have family resource centers that offer service members information on finances, counseling (both marital and career), childcare resources, and education.
In the Army and Air Force, the First Sergeant is the unit commander's counterpart and is responsible for taking care of the military members of the unit on behalf of the Commander. The First Sergeant's duties may range from administrative and disciplinary tasks to providing resources and support. In the Navy, this role is assumed by the Chief.
Currently there are more than 1.2 million military children, and since 2001, approximately 2 million children have experienced deployment of a parent.
Over 2.6 million troops have deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf since September 11, 2001.
The number of veterans signing up for educational benefits has more than doubled since September 2001. However, graduation rates from public universities and community colleges have been as low as 3%. Experts believe this is due to the difficulties many veterans have adjusting to the different structure and culture of a college or university setting.
Members of the military community who are in the Reserve and National Guard components have unique challenges in serving our country. In fact, they may deploy just as much or even more than some active duty service members.
Give an Hour™ is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C., area. The organization’s mission is to develop national networks of volunteers capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society.
Currently, GAH is dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by their time of service. We provide counseling to individuals, couples and families, and children and adolescents--to anyone affected by a loved one's service.
In addition to direct counseling services, our providers are working to reduce the stigma associated with mental health by participating in and leading education, training, and outreach efforts in schools and communities and around military bases.