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More Ohio Counselors Trained to Treat Combat Stress Among Returning Veterans

The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services has begun training more counselors to screen and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or P-T-S-D. The training comes as more than 4,000 Ohio National Guard troops have served overseas since the start of the Iraq War.

Many of the returning guard troops have seen combat firsthand. Guard spokesman James Sims those who are part of or close observers of combat might need help for combat stress."Whenever a soldier enters a combat zone they're changed, they're changed, and so we recognize that. The civilian doctors and medics and professional mental health folks recognize that as well." Says Sims.

While the Ohio National Guard works with counselors around the state to screen and recognize signs of post traumatic stress. Across the country, an estimated half a million soldiers and marines have served stints overseas since the start of the Iraq War. A Duke University researcher, who has studied military issues for more than 20 years says combat stress teams used in Iraq are having a positive effect on troops. Doctor Harold Kudler says the mental health teams were designed to help soldiers and marines cope with battlefield conditions. "What we're seeing because of combat stress control teams is that 19 out of 20 people who contact the combat stress control unit go back to the front, complete the mission and do their job well and I believe come home stronger." Says Kudler.

The military is also screening returning veterans for signs of post traumatic stress syndrome. Kudler says his work and research is designed to help the mililtary better screen for signs of post traumatic stress or symptons of other battle related mental conditions.

As a member of the House armed services committee, Ohio democratic congressman and candidate for Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland, who's also running for Ohio Governor, says the effort to identify and treat signs of combat stress will save lives and marriages. "We are finding that about one in five of the returning soldiers are experiencing problems with anxiety, depression.Many are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Too many have expressed suicidal ideation and we've actually lost soldiers to suicide who've come back.And so what we need to be doing is more, not less." Says Strickland.

Still, The Ohio National Guard lacks an accurate count of its returnees dealing with mental health issues. Spokesman James Sims some soldiers and air reserve personnel perceive a stigma linked to mental disorders.

Sims says the guard and the regular military are working with other state departments to help identify and treat signs of combat stress among Iraq War veterans.