The U.S. Army is teaching all
military personnel, and most adult dependents, how to detect possible PTSD
(post-traumatic stress disorder) or similar symptoms found in those who
suffered concussions from roadside bombs.
The army is facing an unprecedented situation.
Never before has it had so many troops who have experienced so many days of
combat. In the past (Vietnam, World War II) casualties were several times
higher. but combat was not as prolonged. Thus few troops lasted 200 or more
days in combat. During World War II, it was found that 200 days was the average
combat exposure a soldier suffered before starting to experience debilitating
The patterns ofcombat were differentduring
World War II. For example, the bulk of the troops in Europe went in after June
6, 1944. The fighting in Europe ended eleven months later. In the Pacific, the
fighting tended to be episodic. A few months of combat, followed by many months
of preparing for the next island invasion or battle. In Vietnam, not a lot of
people went back for multiple tours, and those who did spend a year with a
combat unit, spent less time in combat than they would in Iraq. Even during
Vietnam,it was noted that many of those
who were in combat for 200 or more days, did get a little punchy.
In Iraq, army combat troops often get 200 days of
combat in one 12 month tour, which is more than their grandfathers got during
all of World War II. And some troops are returning for a third tour in Iraq,
which is now fifteen months. The army has found ways to avoid the onset of PTSD
(better accommodations, email contact with home, prompt treatment for PTSD),
but many troops are headed for uncharted territory, and an unprecedented amount
of time in combat. Thus the new program to spot PTSD as early as possible.