Government Ill-Equipped to Handle Returning War Vets

Wednesday, 27 Mar 2013 11:32 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The government is unable to adequately address the needs of more than 2 million Americans who served overseas in wars following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to a new study by a panel of prominent scientists.

A nearly 800-page study released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine documents all kinds of medical, mental health, family, and other problems that 10 years of war have created on an unprecedented scale, reports USA Today.

Although the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are working to help veterans deal with a variety of ailments as they readjust to life after war, the study says their “response does not match the magnitude of the problems, and many readjustment needs are unmet or unknown.”

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fought with all-volunteer forces, unlike other wars in the nation's past, which meant limited troop deployments. But multiple deployments quickly became the norm in Iraq and Afghanistan, often with less than a year of rest between tours.

In addition, the ranks were filled with high numbers of women, parents, and reservists, creating even more of a toll on U.S. society.

“The urgency of addressing these issues is heightened by the sheer number of people affected, the rapid drawdown of personnel from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the long-term effects that many of the issues might have, not only on military personnel and veterans and their family but on the country as a whole,” the study found.

Dr. George Rutherford, who chaired the group that conducted the study, said while he thinks the Pentagon and VA have “really exerted extraordinary efforts to try and get it right,” there are still “some areas that need to be improved.”

The study, for example, found there is still too much unknown about the long-term effects of war-related problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicidal tendencies.

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