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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Military Suicides Are Down but Violence Is Up

As we look back on the last decade of war in Iraq and as soldiers who have been abroad off and on for years come home, the true aftermath of war has begun to rear its ugly head. Fortunately, the rate of suicide amongst soldiers is on the decline which is a good sign considering the number of cases of post traumatic stress; suicides among soldiers in the active duty Guard and Reserve totaled 278 last year, down 9 percent from 2010. However, a new Army report has shown that domestic violence, sex crimes and other destructive behaviors are on the rise.

"There's a lot of good news in this report, but there's also some bad news," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli told a Pentagon press conference. "We know we've got still a lot of work to do."

"I think we've at least arrested this problem and hopefully will start to push it down," Chiarelli said.

Sadly, violent sex crimes and domestic violence have risen by more than 30 percent since 2006 and child abuse by 43 percent.

"After 10 years of war with an all-volunteer force, you're going to have problems that no one could have forecasted before this began," he said.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has been labeled an epidemic, the report estimates that there could be 472,000 service members with the condition, half of them in the Army. Some 24,000 soldiers were referred to substance abuse programs in the 2011 budget year. The Army had over 126,000 diagnosed cases of traumatic brain injury from 2000 to 2010. More than 95,000 mild cases such as concussions, 20,000 moderate cases, and more than 3,500 in which there were severe, penetrating injuries.

Chiarelli released a 200-page report for commanders, health care providers, and other military leaders. The report was designed to assess the physical and mental health condition of the force, disciplinary problems, and any gaps in how the Army deals with them.



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