How the US Plans to Improve the Treatment of Recent Veterans Suffering from PTSD & TBI?

Several veterans coming back from war have encountered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) side effects. Senator Gillibrand has an exclusive plan to reinforce observing and treatment for men and women at work and new veterans. This authoritative plan concentrates on getting the organizations at the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Administration (VA) to facilitate all the treatment more adequately. They have to work seamlessly to address the problems related to mental health treatment. And they need to work tirelessly to upgraded the screening procedure and make it accessible to mental health providers.

Stanford University study revealed that PTSD and other mental diseases can affect upwards of 35% of all veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In spite of everything, there remains much more work to do to offer quality treatment to the PTSD and TBI affected service members and veterans.

According to RAND Corporation data, around 8,000 new veterans from NYC suffer from PSTD and more than 7,000 suffer from TBI. Also, over 4,000 suffer from both. The corporation also states that 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans encounter PTSD, 19% suffer from TBI, and 75% is affected by both problems. Senator Gillibrand’s New Efforts to Improve PTSD and TBI Treatment for New Veterans are as follows –

  1. Develop Coordination between Defense Department and VA

As the problems are persistent, the DOD has made huge steps to develop the screening and treatment of TBI within its systems. Be that as it may, these developments have not been implemented into a systematic methodology for veterans leaving active duty and entering VA care. For instance, the VA and DOD have no mutually interoperable meaning of what even constitutes TBI cases. This makes it hard to guarantee veterans are quickly getting successful treatment when they are shifted to the VA. Building up right ID of TBI is a basic to deliver the right treatment. A letter conveyed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Senator Gillibrand has insisted on improving an integrated way to deal with recognizing and treating TBI. Also, he is worried over the dependence on a psychotropic solution to treat TBI, which has almost tripled. This has led the increase of around 100,000 prescriptions to more than 300,000, with no reasonable proof as to its viability.

  1. Implant Mental Health Providers with National Guard and Reserve Units

Guard and Reserve units have ended up being especially helpless to PTSD as an aftereffect of numerous deployments and the challenge to readapt to regular citizen life. The first four years in Iraq and Afghanistan over half of service members Guard and Reserve veterans have committed suicide. To offer a steady access to mental health treatment to the troops, Senator Gillibrand is making an enactment to implant a mental health professional to each Guard and Reserve unit to create the trust of troops and their families to recognize the onset of mental wounds. In light of a pilot program with the California National Guard, this step has been demonstrated to develop access to mental health treatment. Ultimately, it will lessen the stigma related with looking for help, just about multiplying the rate of Guard troops separately looking for mental help without a referral from a military facility or authority.

  1. Establish Long-Term Screening and Care

In the past few years, the DOD major progress in improving screening assessments to recognize PTSD upon the return of service members from the wars. Nevertheless, Senator Gillibrand has been notified by several veterans who have found that in view of the moderate onset of PTSD indications, a one-time screening upon come back from war is not generally sufficient to identify the problem. Therefore, he is keeping in touch with Charles L. Rice, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and pushing to create suggestions on the most effective methods to identify the onsets of these illnesses like – by providing an extra screening 6 or 12 months after coming back from a battle.

Afghanistan War: A Brief Profile

In 2001, the Afghanistan war had started after 9/11. The US and NATO coalition joined forces to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda groups. Starting 2014, United States workforces are pulling themselves back from the nation, finishing a decade long battle. The US has been at war for almost the first decade of the 21st-century. A big number of US military personnel have been sent to another country to the Middle East to take part in what the administration of President George W. Bush indicated to as the ‘War on Terror.’ In numerous ways, the main battle of the War on Terror has occurred in the isolated and hilly country of Afghanistan. So, let’s take a brief tour to the longest war in the history of US.

Causes of the War

Afghanistan has been an unsteady country, especially over the last century. In the early 1900s, the country had established itself as a sovereign country that no longer need outside help. In the early 1970s, power shifts hand at a random pace, especially, from one group to another. A civil war within Afghanistan’s border had begun in 1978 and the parties involved were pro- and anti-communist forces. The Soviet Union sent in a military group to show support to the communists. As a result, a severe conflict started. Throughout this battle, the US gave cash and military help to those battling the Soviets. Some of these were known as the Mujahideen, made out of Islamists who were staunchly contradicted to the Soviet intrusion. Throughout this conflict, more than one million Afghans had passed on this contention, yet the Soviets were repelled.

Following the war against the Soviets, different warlords and extremist groups viewed Afghanistan as a weak link and they strive to take control over the country in the coming years. By the mid-1990s, the Taliban took control of the nation and they ruled by Islamic Sharia law. They also initiated to a great degree unforgiving restrictions on the citizens of this nation. Furthermore, the Taliban group had made a situation in Afghanistan that feed terrorists. Osama Bin Laden, a veteran of the battle against the Soviets, turned into a main figure in the Al Qaeda terrorist association, one of the biggest and most advanced Islamic terrorist groups on the planet. They operated within Afghanistan and they had planned to strike against the USA.

In the year 2011, the Al Qaeda terrorists group started attacks against the USA and they flew with two planes filled with innocent people and crashed into buildings in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The brave passengers in Southern Pennsylvania had brought down the fourth plane. About 3,000 Americans were killed during these terrorists’ attacks.

How many have died in this war?

  • S. soldiers: 2,014 (as of 7/10/12, according to the Department of Defense)
  • Taliban: More than 30,000
  • Al-Qaeda: more than 2,500
  • Afghan government forces: 6,100
  • Afghan civilians: more than 34,000
  • British soldiers: 341
  • Canadian soldiers: 152
  • Soldiers from allied countries (mostly from Germany, Spain, France, and Denmark): 163

Why was it so hard to achieve positive goals against the Afghanistan?

  • The Afghan society is made of different tribes and ethnic groups. They have a history of conflict and rivalry. As a result, it is a difficult task to bring them into one government supervision.
  • The mountain terrains of this county provide several hiding places to insurgents and make traditional war an impossible task.
  • Despite the fact that the USA had no plans of making a colony in the country, the conventional Afghan brutality worked against them.

How do the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan affect the Surviving Soldiers?

Since Vietnam war, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are the longest ever battle operations. A lot of stressors confront these Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) troops. OEF/OIF service members are at danger for death or severe injury. They may see others hurt or executed. In fact, they might have needed to slaughter or wound others. As a result, they are subjected to dangers. These and different components have the potentials to expand the possibilities of having PTSD or other psychological problems.

Several members of service have been far away from home for long stretches of time and these issues can bring problems at home or work. Also, these issues can add to the anxiety as well. Besides, these problems are severe for National Guard and Reserve troops who had not anticipated that they would be away for so long. Half of the individuals who have served in the present wars have been Guard and Reservists.

There is another persisting stress problem that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan is military sexual trauma (MST). This is rape or recurring, devastating inappropriate sexual behavior that happens in the military. It can happen to men and ladies. MST can also happen during peacetime, training period, or war.

One early study looked at the mental health of service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. The study asked Soldiers and Marines about war-zone experiences and about their symptoms of distress. Soldiers and Marines in Iraq reported more combat stressors than Soldiers in Afghanistan. This table describes the kinds of stressors faced in each combat theatre in 2003.

A research has been conducted on the emotional well-being of service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. It revealed some information about war-zone experiences and the side effects of distress. More soldiers, officers and marines in Iraq war reported about stress than in Afghanistan war. The below table portrays the kinds of stressors confronted in every battle in 2003 –

Combat Stressors Seeing dead bodies Being shot at Being attacked/ ambushed Receiving rocket or mortar fire Know someone killed/ seriously injured
Iraq Army 95% 93% 89% 86% 86%
Iraq Marines 94% 97% 95% 92% 87%
Afghanistan Army 39% 66% 58% 84% 43%

Source: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

The soldiers and marines served in Iraq war suffered from more combat stressors and mental health problems than those who served in Afghanistan. The rate of having PSTD is higher for the soldiers in Iraq than Afghanistan. A later research confirmed these findings with evidence.

What causes the risk of PTSD in OEF/OIF service members?

Some research studies have revealed that specific factors make it more likely that OEF/OIF service members will develop PTSD. These factors include:

  • Long deployment time
  • Severe combat exposure, such as Deployment to “forward” areas close to the enemy and watching others wounded or killed
  • Severe physical injury and Traumatic brain injury
  • Lower rank and Lower level of schooling
  • Low morale and poor social support within the unit
  • Not being married and having Family problems
  • Member of the National Guard or Reserves
  • Prior trauma exposure
  • Hispanic ethnic group

What are the probable outcomes?

A research on OEF/OIF Veterans recommends that 10% to 18% of OEF/OIF troops are vulnerable to have PTSD after the war. Also, the PTSD, OEF/OIF service members are at a greater level of danger for other mental problems. In spite of the fact that studies differ generally as far as systems utilized, approximations of depression in returning troops vary from 3% to 25%. An excessive level of drinking and use of tobacco among OEF/OIF Veterans might be hazardous. They additionally report worries over differences with others.

Apart from this research, several other research studies have revealed how the reaction to war stressors changes after some time. The PTSD signs will probably appear in returning OEF/OIF service members after a while. Utilizing a brief PTSD screen, they were evaluated at their arrival and an again six months later. They will probably have a positive screen and they have demonstrated more PTSD side effects – at a later time. Now, a lot of service members who were screened positive with PSTD in the initial showed that the side effects will be reduced after six months. As a whole, it must be noted that almost all the returning members evaluated negatively for PSTD at both times.