A new military survey obtained by USA Today shows that U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan are reporting record levels of acute stress and low morale.
The problem is most severe in servicemen and women who have been deployed multiple times. A third of them reported depression, anxiety or another serious mental health problem.
Meanwhile, those reporting medium to very high morale dropped to 46.5 percent from 65.7 percent in 2005. Seventeen percent reported acute stress, compared to 6 percent in 2005.
The survey also painted a bleak picture of the intense combat troops in Afghanistan engage in. More than 75 percent said a friend had been wounded or killed, and half of respondents said they had killed an enemy combatant. Half also experienced explosions at close range while on foot patrols.
The good news is the military has doubled the mental health staff available to troops stationed in Afghanistan since 2009, when a report found 14 percent of U.S. troops there had some psychological problem. Also, more troops report they’re confident in the skills of their platoon leaders–close to 50 percent, up from 39 percent 2005.
Mental health problems are also very severe among veterans. In March, Clay Hunt, an ex-Marine and advocate for veterans committed suicide, leaving friends and family reeling. Hunt, 28, was awarded the Purple Heart after he’d been wounded by sniper fire in Afghanistan. A veteran’s agency estimates that 20 percent of suicide victims each year are veterans.
|Liveleak on Facebook|