Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fallout

So 1/3 of military personnel returning from Iraq have sought help for mental-health issues. Hard to know what that surprising figure actually means. It could be an artifact of the way the questionnaire was designed (key unanswered question: was the questionnaire anonymous?). It could means that they’re dealing with it early instead of letting it fester, which would be a good thing (assuming the government actually gives them help). The WaPo article, which is not well-researched, talks about debates over whether some of this is mental illness (post-traumatic stress disorder) or just plain vanilla trauma, without saying how that affects whether they are helped. One thing we’ll need to look at in future years is how vets of this war die. The number of suicides among Vietnam veterans surpassed the number of combat deaths sometime in the late 1970s, but they also tended to die in large numbers in single-car crashes, many of which were suicides but not counted as such.

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