Healing Hidden Wounds: The Mental Health Crisis of America's Veterans

By Doolin, Drew T. | Joint Force Quarterly, July 2009 | Go to article overview

Healing Hidden Wounds: The Mental Health Crisis of America's Veterans


Doolin, Drew T., Joint Force Quarterly


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

From August 2004 to January 2005, and from January to September 2006, I commanded a Marine Corps logistics battalion of more than 1,100 Marines and Sailors in Iraq whose mission was to provide support for a Marine infantry regiment in combat. My men and women drove over a million miles through the worst of Iraq's "bad guy country"--western Anbar Province. During both deployments, battalion convoys were attacked with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that resulted in loss of limbs, hearing damage, concussions, and other injuries--and on one occasion members of the battalion were victims of a suicide vehicle-borne IED that caused shattered limbs and permanent disfigurement from severe burns. Just as tragic, we lost Marines and Sailors to vehicular accidents in the line of duty. Even life in the base camp was not free of danger, as we frequently received rocket fire from a nearby town. This was life in our area of operations during the height of the insurgency.

After our return from the first deployment, I held roundtable discussions with my Marines and Sailors to talk about what we had seen, how each of us would characterize the deployment, what it was like being home, and how those feelings manifested themselves. Many of the participants in these discussions commented that the operational tempo of the deployment was incredibly demanding--and they liked it; that being back in garrison was slow, boring, and meaningless; that those who did not deploy with us "just didn't get it"; and that everyone missed those they served with. Although only a few admitted they had experienced symptoms of combat stress (for example, sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, and intrusive thoughts), most everyone's alcohol consumption had gone up exponentially, suggesting there were some issues my Marines and Sailors were not dealing with.

After these informal discussions, I realized how much my battalion would have benefitted from a formal combat operational stress control (COSC) program that could have provided some training and education before deployment. An established program also would have given me some tools as a commander to assist my personnel through the transition from war back to "normal" life. During my time in battalion command, I was not aware that such a program existed and wondered what was available to commanders in the other Services. With this in mind, as a Federal Executive Fellow this past year at the Brookings Institution, I have researched what psychological wellness programs are available for today's commanders. I talked with other commanders, psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed counselors, chaplains, and returning war veterans to gain insight on the topic of effective stress control and returning to optimal emotional health following combat. I also reviewed program briefings from each of the Service programs, interviewed people directly involved with these programs, surveyed Servicemembers who were about to deploy or had recently returned from a combat zone, and examined studies on combat stress.

During my research, I found that until recently there was a lack of investment in mental health care to prepare Servicemembers for combat and to help them reintegrate into life at home. I also found significant barriers to receiving mental health care, which include a lack of sufficient mental health care providers and the cultural stigma attached to self-reporting symptoms of combat stress response. A stigma can come from military culture itself, society in general, or the terminology used to describe and treat combat stress reactions. Thus, this article discusses barriers to care, provides a current model for mental health care, and examines each of the Services' programs to explain the progress made since my time in command and to highlight where improvements are needed. In addition, the article suggests recommendations for further program development. …

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

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Healing Hidden Wounds: The Mental Health Crisis of America's Veterans
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.