Thursday, May 19, 2011

Afghan War's Toll on US Soldiers

AP reports on the psychological deterioration of US forces in Afghanistan.  Some of the "highlights":
— Only 46.5 percent of soldiers said their morale was medium, high or very high last year, compared to 65.7 percent in 2005. For Marines, it was only 58.6 percent last year compared to 70.4 percent when they were surveyed in 2006 in Iraq. (The report compares numbers of the Marine to their time in Iraq because they were not in Afghanistan in significant numbers before the surge)

— Nearly 80 percent of Marines and soldiers said they'd seen a member of their unit killed or wounded, compared to roughly half who said that in the earlier years.

— Nearly one in five soldiers and Marines reported psychological problems such as acute stress, depression or anxiety last year. The number for soldiers was one in 10 in 2005 and for Marines about one in eight in 2006.

—The military says it boosted the mental health staff in the country to one for every 646 soldiers last year, compared to one for every 1,123 in 2009.

And, of course, besides the suffering these troops are already dealing with comes the question: What about after they muster out, and return to homes and families, and try to resume "normal lives" after what they've had to endure?  And if they remain in the military, how effective can they possibly be if called into another conflict?

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