October 10, 2011
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are common injuries among returning combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the beginning of hostilities in Afghanistan in October 2001, more than 1.8 million United States troops have served in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom with 37% deployed at least twice (National Center For Ptsd, 2009).Vietnam was the longest war before the United States declared war in both Iraq and Afghanistan, meaning a high percentage of Marines will be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Countless veterans that have been diagnosed with PTSD that do not know how to seek and obtain help. PTSD is a growing problem in the United States military with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; however treatment is desperately spreading to cure this illness. Many of their families do not know how to cope with family members who have PTSD. PTSD is caused by different situations and events known as stressors.
Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom Veterans (OIF) are faced with many stressors from the war or deployments they have partaken in. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or disaster (Department of Veteran Affairs, 2011). After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping, to name a few. A traumatic event is something life-threatening or very scary event that someone has seen, done or that has happened to them (National Center for PTSD, 2009). Nearly every frontline Marine in the Iraq war or Afghanistan war has been through a traumatic event, such as combat, a blast, or witnessing a death. Veterans have to deal with situations that no one else can imagine. They are at risk of death, and they may have to harm another human. Those with PTSD hear, sleep, see, and cause death. They are on alert 24 hours a day seven days a week. Numerous factors can increase Veterans possibilities of having PTSD or other mental health problems (Department of Veteran Affairs, 2011). 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom), or in 11-20 Veterans out of 100 that have been diagnosed with PTSD. Anything can cause a Veteran with PTSD to lose control of their reactions. In many cases, Marines who were involved in roadside bombs become paranoid in a traffic jam, or will sometimes drive in the middle of the road, creating a dangerous situation in the civilian world. Even a large crowd of people or a loud noise can alarm them. Multiple studies have been taken to find how PTSD is caused, who is affected by it, and how to overcome it.
One study looked at the mental health of service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. The study asked Marines about war-zone experiences and about their symptoms of distress. Marines in Iraq reported more combat stressors than soldiers in Afghanistan. Marines in Iraq reported
What Marines reported in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Saw dead bodies
Had been shot at
Were attacked or ambushed
Received mortar or rocket fire
Know someone killed or injured
(Department of Veteran Affairs, 2011). Marines who had/have more combat stressors have more mental health problems. The rate of PTSD of Marines that served in Iraq is higher than the rate of the one who have served in Afghanistan (Department of Veteran Affairs, 2011). 10-18% of Marines who have served in OIF/OEF are likely to have PTSD after they come home, not always noticeable right away, usually a few months after their return. The percentage of Marines is more at risk to have other mental problems. It is estimated that depression in Marines returning home is 3% to