Even as demands build back home to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, a new military study finds that those troops are under increasing psychological stress, and their morale has hit the lowest point in five years. Veterans who have had three or more deployments are enduring the most strain, according to the study, which USA Today
|Five years ago, almost two-thirds of US troops had medium to high morale; now, fewere than half do. (Getty Images Photo)
One-third of those troops exhibit signs of psychological problems defined as stress, depression, or anxiety, USA Today quotes the study as finding.
Morale has taken a precipitous plunge since 2005, when 65.7 percent of the troops said they had medium, high, or very high moral. That figure now is 46.5 percent. About 1 in 7 soldiers — and 1 in 5 Marines — reported high or very high morale, according to the study report, which is based on a survey of soldiers and Marines last year.
"We're an Army that's in uncharted territory here," Gen. Peter Chiarelli told U.S. Today.
"We have never fought for this long with an all-volunteer force that's 1 percent of the population," said Chiarelli, an Army vice chief of staff who has focused on combat stress.
On the upside, the report found that the praise the troops have for their unit sergeants has never been higher as the United States approaches the 10th year of its longest war.
And Chiarelli holds out hope that psychological stress will subside. "I'm not worried about our ability to continue the fight," Chiarelli told USA Today. "Folks who are coming home now are going to see that they're not going back for 24 months. And that hasn't been the way it's been for 10 years."
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