Ohio Military Leaders Pay More Attention To Unseen Battle Scars
More than 4-thousand Ohio National Guard troops and air reservists have been deployed overseas since the start of the Iraq War. Studies indicate between ten and 15 percent of the troops might suffer from combat stress or post traumatic stress syndrome.
Ohio National Guard state surgeon Doctor Colonel Steven Ulrich says the military is working hard to reduce psychiatric casualty rolls. With troop strength stretched thin, the services have deployed "combat stress detachments" to help soldiers and marines cope with mental strain after they've seen or been involved in close combat. Colonel Ulrich has served in Iraq as part of these teams. "I think again it emphasizes to the soldier that dealing with mental health is an acceptable thing. Its not seen as a sign of weakness, but its seen as a sign of strength if you can deal with the stress and then work to overcome it." Says Ulrich.
Ulrich adds that no one returns from combat unchanged, and military doctors are now trained to screen for signs of possible post traumatic stress. "I know the jumpy feelings, the lack of getting to sleep at night at times and yet with the help of my family and especially my wife I've been able to adapt to that and return to normal function as do the vast majority of soldiers." Says Ulrich.
As the troops return home the military is determined that both physical and mental health conditions are followed up. The combat stress teams working in Iraq appear to to have an effect. Published reports say psychiatric casualty rates have been reduced by more than a third since the combat stress teams were deployed.