Military Trying to Get Mental Health Care Right; SEE IT Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Isn't Unusual after Combat. HEAL IT the Military's Stance Has Changed, with Troops Encouraged to Seek Help If Needed

By Gibbons, Timothy J. | The Florida Times Union, June 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

Military Trying to Get Mental Health Care Right; SEE IT Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Isn't Unusual after Combat. HEAL IT the Military's Stance Has Changed, with Troops Encouraged to Seek Help If Needed


Gibbons, Timothy J., The Florida Times Union


Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

Mike Murray got back to Mayport Naval Station from Afghanistan eight months ago, but his experiences there haven't faded.

"I haven't had a good night's sleep once since I've gotten home," said the petty officer first class who spent a year in Kabul helping the Afghan air force.

Murray volunteered for the assignment as an individual augmentee, the Navy's term - commonly abbreviated IA - for a sailor sent to serve with the nation's ground forces. The job was fun, he said, but there was the constant sound of rocket-propelled grenades hitting the NATO base where he worked and regular high-pitched explosions. Such things have a far-reaching impact.

"You become numb to it," he said. "You get used to throwing on your body armor, to throwing your flight suit on over your pajamas."

When he came home, he had trouble even driving, the result of leading around two or three dozen convoys through the crowded streets of Kabul.

"The first time I drove by myself [at home], I had to pull over twice because of anxiety," he said. "I would pull up to crowded stoplights, and instinct and urge would make me want to drive around the cars and through the intersection. We never stopped with convoys."

The long-lasting aftershocks of his experiences aren't unusual.

"We're not equipped to go and see that stuff and then come home and drop it," said Marianne Chapman, a mental health counselor who has spent much of her career working with the military in Jacksonville and Miami. "What they need to recognize is they're having a completely normal reaction to an abnormal situation."

That's a message the military has been pushing hard as it fights to preserve the mental health of its warriors. The cost of losing that battle was shown a few weeks ago when a soldier in Iraq who had been sent for counseling grabbed a gun and shot five fellow troops, including a Navy officer working at the mental health clinic there.

The totality of the military, particularly the Army, is struggling with rising rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and issues stemming from traumatic brain injury. It's a situation that has been worsening for years as more soldiers experience more - and more close-quarters - combat.

Studies have shown that a quarter or more of returning troops had some sort of mental health issue, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and depression.

The problem often spikes six months or so after the service member returns, when the initial relief at being home subsides.

To be clear, dealing with combat-related trauma doesn't mean a service member suffers from debilitating, or even visible, symptoms. While some, due to either physical injury or mental trauma, do end up catatonic, suicidal or dangerously violent, the majority deal with less severe issues: trouble sleeping, feelings of anger, impatience, alcohol abuse.

"I cannot imagine anyone escaping combat unscathed, but there are varying degrees," Chapman said.

The situation is worsened for front-line troops and those who return to the war zone multiple times. Army researchers estimate about 60 percent of a typical unit going to Iraq has deployed before.

"All Army leaders recognize at every level that repeated deployments are difficult for our soldiers," said Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, commander of the Army Medical Command.

A different kind of fighter

The situation facing those providing help in Jacksonville comes with an additional twist.

Most of those who return to the area after spending time at war stand apart from the typical fighter who deals with the issues as part of a regular unit. Here, they're often IA's - sailors plucked from their ship or squadron and sent to the front lines.

They're National Guardsmen, deployed as a unit, but split up upon their return. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Military Trying to Get Mental Health Care Right; SEE IT Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Isn't Unusual after Combat. HEAL IT the Military's Stance Has Changed, with Troops Encouraged to Seek Help If Needed
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.