PTSD/SUBSTANCE ABUSE COMMITTEE REPORT
The Next Generation of
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 experiencessuch as being
shot at, handling dead bodies, knowing someone who was killed, or
killing enemy combatantsand 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.