The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

August/September 2004
PTSD/SUBSTANCE ABUSE COMMITTEE REPORT
 
 

The Next Generation of Veterans

BY TOM BERGER, CHAIR

Attendance at VVA's 2004 National Leadership Conference in Nashville was outstanding. Dr. Joe Boscarino's seminar sponsored by the PTSD/SA Committee, "Exposure to Combat, PTSD & Future Medical Problems: The Health Impact of Military Service for Vietnam Veterans," played to a packed seminar room. In addition to his great seminar, Dr. Boscarino also was honored with a VVA life membership in recognition of his 20-year history of groundbreaking health care research focusing on Vietnam veterans. Our thanks to Dr. Boscarino, the other seminar leaders, and the VVA Conference Planning Group for presenting the most successful leadership conference to date.

In early July, a research group based at Walter Reed Army Hospital published the results of a study that provides an initial look at the mental health of members of the Army and the Marine Corps who have been involved in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The findings indicate that, among soldiers and Marines represented in the study groups, there was a significant risk of mental health problems. Further, the subjects reported important barriers to receiving mental health services, particularly the perception of stigma among those most in need of such care.

For all study groups responding after deployment, there was a strong reported relation between combat experiencessuch as being shot at, handling dead bodies, knowing someone who was killed, or killing enemy combatantsand the prevalence of PTSD. The report is entitled "Combat Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mental Health Problems, and Barriers to Care" and can be found in The New England Journal of Medicine published during the first week of July.  A related article, printed in the Colorado Springs newspaper in May, noted that Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center and a retired Army Ranger, has visited returning troops in the United States and Europe. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder rates among troops from the first Gulf War ran around 6 percent," he said. But he estimates PTSD among veterans from Iraq at 14 percent and climbing. With well over 100,000 troops returning from Iraq this year, Robinson predicted a "wave" of serious issues among troops back home.

Through the assistance of the VVA Council of State Council Presidents, VVA service officers, and other VVA friends, more than 50,000 copies of the revised VVA PTSD tri-fold brochure have been distributed around the country. During the Leadership Conference, PTSD/SA Committee liaison Mokie Porter gave a box of the brochures to airline flight attendants who were staying at the Sheraton. Porter asked that the brochures be handed out to our returning Iraq and Afghan troops on flights that they worked.

The date for submission of entries to the committee's PTSD poster design contest has now
passed. Thanks to everyone who submitted a design or idea. A final design will be selected
during VVA's October Board of Directors meeting.

   

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