November 4, 2010

IVAW's Operation Recovery: Stop Sending Traumatized Troops Back to War

IVAW'S Jason Hurd & Aaron Hughes being interviewed

Listen to the interview here


IVAW Operation Recovery: 10 Reasons Traumatized Troops Need a Right to Heal

1. Suicide rates among active-duty troops are twice as high as that of the civilian population, and veterans with PTSD are six times more likely to attempt suicide.1

2. 20% to 50% of all service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan have suffered Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): this translates to 350,000 to 900,000 current GIs or recent veterans that have suffered or are suffering from PTSD.2

3. By 2008, nearly 33% of troops had served 2 tours to Iraq or Afghanistan, while 10% had served 3 tours. Today over 11,000 troops have served 6 tours. Each tour greatly increases a service member’s chances of PTSD. Almost 30% of troops on their third deployment suffer from serious mental-health problems. 3

4. 15% of women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced sexual assault or harassment. 20% of women using VA services have reported Military Sexual Trauma (MST). 4

5. Post-deployment costs to taxpayers resulting from PTSD and major depression range from $4 billion to $6.2 billion, depending on the cost of the more than 2,100 service members’ lives lost to suicide.5

6. Troops with PTSD and major depression are seeking help, but most are getting less than adequate treatment. Half of the service members with a probable PTSD diagnosis or major depression have sought help6

7. A third of soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq say they can't see a mental health professional when they need to.7

8. Nearly 20% of service members are taking some kind of psychiatric drug. Among service members currently in combat, 12% in Iraq and 17% in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping meds. Yet the military has no way of tracking prescription drug use in combat.8

9. The DOD cannot establish that service members are mentally fit to deploy or ensure that it can accurately assess mental health conditions when they return.9

10. A service member deemed ineligible for deployment by a military mental health professional can be forced to deploy with severe trauma by a commanding officer. 10

“Suicide and PTSD”, Department of Veterans Affairs,, Armen Keteyian “Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans”, CBS News, November 13 2007, and Mark Thompson “Invisible Wounds: Mental Health and the Military” CNN, August 22 2010,,9171,2008886,00.html

2 Seal, K. H., Bertenthal, D., Maguen, S., Gima, K., Chu, A., & Marmar, C. R. (2008). “Getting beyond “Don't ask; don't tell”: An evaluation of US Veterans Administration post-deployment mental health screening of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” American Journal of Public Health, 98, 714–720. See also “Comparisons of PTSD rates” Journal of Traumatic Stress-Volume 23, Issue 1, Feb, 2010

3 The Alaska Army National Guard: A “Tremendous Shortfall”, A Report of the Veterans For America National Guard Program, October 15, 2008 and Mark Thompson, “America's Medicated Army” Time, June 5th, 2008,8599,1811858-2,00.html

4 and “Responding to Military Sexual Trauma - Still A Long Way to Go” Marcia G. Yerman,

5 Terri Tanielian and J. Cox et al “Invisible Wounds of War: Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries” RAND 2008, p. 12 and Mark Mueller, “Military suicides increase as U.S. soldiers struggle with torment of war”

6 Terri Tanielian and J. Cox et al “Invisible Wounds of War: Summary and Recommendations Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries” RAND 2008, p. 12 (of introduction)

7 Terri Tanielian and J. Cox et al “Invisible Wounds of War: Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries” RAND, 2008, p. 251

8 Mark Thompson, “America's Medicated Army” Time, June 5th, 2008,8599,1811858-2,00.html See also, Bob Brewin, Nextgov, 06/08/2010, Defense unable to track deployed troops' use of psychiatric drugs, and “Medicating the military” By Andrew Tilghman and B. McGarry, Army Times, 03/17/2010

9 GAO-07-831, “Comprehensive Oversight Framework Needed to Help Ensure Effective Implementation of a Deployment Health Quality Assurance Program”, June 2007, pg 1

10 DDI 1332.14(8)c Updated: March, 29, 2010.

The Issue

Thousands of troops are being sent to war despite suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Many of us within IVAW have faced or are currently facing deployment as we try to recover from the severe trauma we have already experienced.

While we recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see the deployment of soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma as particularly cruel, inhumane, and dangerous. Military commanders across all branches are pushing service members far past human limits for the sake of 'combat readiness.' We cannot allow those commanders to continue to ignore the welfare of their troops who are, after all, human beings.

There is a problem, a basic right is being denied, and we will organize to get it back.

This issue affects all of us. Everyone needs to recognize that the improper standards of care in the military and VA are harming our brothers and sisters, our nation, and only furthers the cycle of dehumanization and destruction of these wars.

Service Members have the Right to Heal

Because the military is desperate for warm bodies in the field, and the VA doesn't have the resources to serve all those in need, too often service members are conveniently denied care or access to quality mental health screenings. We say, service members with PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to high quality health care. They have the right to seek care and pursue treatments in the best interest of their health and well-being.

Service members have the right to receive medical care and advice from medical professionals.

A commander's orders always supersede the opinion of military medical professionals when it comes to the well-being of our troops. We say, no military authority shall override the advice of medical professionals regarding the health of service members.

Service members who experience PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to exit the traumatic situation and receive immediate support, and compensation.

Too often, service members are forced to redeploy back into dangerous combat, or train in situations that re-traumatize them. We say, individuals suffering from trauma have the right to remove themselves from the source of the trauma. Service members who are not physically or mentally healthy shall not be forced to deploy or continue service.

  • We will support service members standing up for their right to heal, and we will stand against those responsible for violating them.
  • We will expose those responsible for the deployment of traumatized troops. Those responsible will do everything they can to hide the truth, but Operation Recovery will expose the truth.
  • We will demand those responsible for the deployment of traumatized troops end this inhumane practice, and back our demands up with collective action.
  • We will end these wars by winning our Right to Heal. We know that without the repeated use of traumatized soldiers on the battlefield, the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan could not continue

Take Action

Join IVAW's campaign now by making a Pledge of Support.

-thanks to IVAW for info above

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