Archive for the ‘Marines’ Category

Brain-injured troops face unclear long-term risks

December 4, 2008

Many of the thousands of troops who suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk of long-term health problems including depression and Alzheimer’s-like dementia, but it’s impossible to predict how high those risks are, researchers say.

About 22 percent of wounded troops have a brain injury, concluded the prestigious Institute of Medicine — and it urged precise steps for studying how these patients fare years later so chances to help aren’t missed.

The Veterans Affairs Department, which requested the report, and the Pentagon already are taking some of the recommended steps. But a report out Thursday highlights the urgency.

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

An Afghan soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint in Kabul in August ...

“I don’t think we really knew how big a hole in scientific knowledge there is about blast-induced brain injuries,” said Dr. George Rutherford of the University of California, San Francisco, the report’s lead researcher.

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a signature injury of the Iraq war. Most do not involve penetrating head wounds but damage hidden inside the skull caused by an explosion’s pressure wave. It can range from a mild concussion to severe injury. And because symptoms may not be immediately apparent, troops may not seek care.

“If you have a gunshot wound to some specific part of your brain, I can tell you the consequences,” Rutherford said. But with blast concussions, it’s not even possible to say “if you have six of these, are you six times more likely to have something bad happen to you than if you’ve had one?”

Returning soldiers have reported headaches, dizziness, memory loss, confusion, irritability, insomnia and depression. The military has said most of the TBI-injured troops recover with treatment.

“There’s clearly a whole bunch of people who have mild TBI who have no negative outcomes,” Rutherford agreed.

Related:
PTSD, psychological health and traumatic brain injuries

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081204/ap_on_he_me/med_brain_injury

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PTSD, psychological health and traumatic brain injuries

December 3, 2008

The number one question we see here at Peace and Freedom is: how can we better help soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Dealing appropriately with psychological health and traumatic brain injuries is the watchword…

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The military finally is getting ahead in the head business — tackling the psychological health and traumatic brain injuries of soldiers and their families in a comprehensive way.

It’s happening at the moment under the leadership of an energetic, Shakespeare-quoting Army psychiatrist, Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton. Gen. Sutton holds a medical degree from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif. She completed her internship and residency in psychiatry at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco.

By Ann Geracimos    
The Washington Times

Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton is director of the Defense Centers of Excellence, an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with the health and wellness of soldiers. The department seeks to care for troops before and after they suffer trauma. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

Above: Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton is director of the Defense Centers of Excellence, an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with the health and wellness of soldiers. 

Gen. Sutton, 49, is director of the year-old Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE), an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with health matters. The concept is to find the means of caring for troops and their leaders before, as well as after, service members and their relations suffer the debilitating effects of trauma.

The game plan focuses on building up what is being called “resilience” among the military’s many warrior volunteers as well as providing more and better treatment options for visible and invisible injuries of this type in a totally integrated program for recovery and reintegration. Gen. Sutton describes it as a network “like the Internet — a collaborative global network” functioning in a partnership, which is expected to take four years to put fully in place.

The plan, and its three R’s — resilience, recovery, reintegration — had a big workout at a recent three-day DCoE symposium, “Warrior Resilience Conference: Partnering With the Line,” and attended mainly by service members involved in health matters. Billed as the first of its kind, the event at the Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks typified what the organization sees as its mandate: promoting a shift of emphasis in the military away from what is known, in jargon terms, as an “illness-based medical model” toward a “wellness-centric resilience continuum.”

The latter phrase is a mouthful, with good reason, covering as it does a range of approaches that almost directly counter traditional military culture and practices.

“It’s ironic how the military trains us to overcome discomfort but not how to deal with invisible injuries,” Gen. Sutton notes. “As soldiers, we keep a lid on our feelings while we do our job. But nobody tells us when to take the lid off or how to deal with it when we do.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec
/02/military-marches-toward-wellness/

US soldiers re-enlisting because of poor economy

December 2, 2008

Sgt. Ryan Nyhus spent 14 months patrolling the deadly streets of Baghdad, where five members of his platoon were shot and one died. As bad as that was, he would rather go back there than take his chances in this brutal job market.

Nyhus re-enlisted last Wednesday, and in so doing joined the growing ranks of those choosing to stay in the U.S. military because of the bleak economy.

“In the Army, you’re always guaranteed a steady paycheck and a job,” said the 21-year-old Nyhus. “Deploying’s something that’s going to happen. That’s a fact of life in the Army — a fact of life in the infantry.”

By JOHN MILBURN and STEPHEN MANNING, Associated Press Writers

A U.S. Army soldier from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry ...
A U.S. Army soldier from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment searches a building as his platoon leader meets with Iraqi police and security volunteers in Baqouba, 35 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

In 2008, as the stock market cratered and the housing market collapsed, more young members of the Army, Air Force and Navy decided to re-up. While several factors might explain the rise in re-enlistments, including a decline in violence in Iraq, Pentagon officials acknowledge that bad news for the economy is usually good news for the military.

In fact, the Pentagon just completed its strongest recruiting year in four years.

“We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society,” said David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “What difficult economic times give us, I think, is an opening to make our case to people who we might not otherwise have.”

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081202/ap_on_re_us/m
eltdown_choosing_war;_ylt=AobfPtsZi
ED.Sl0zcsAzhmms0NUE

Military Bases Brace for Surge in PTSD, Stress-Related Disorders

November 29, 2008

Some 15,000 soldiers are heading home to this sprawling base after spending more than a year at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military health officials are bracing for a surge in brain injuries and psychological problems among those troops.

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

Facing prospects that one in five of the 101st Airborne Division soldiers will suffer from stress-related disorders, the base has nearly doubled its psychological health staff. Army leaders are hoping to use the base’s experiences to assess the long-term impact of repeated deployments.

The three 101st Airborne combat brigades, which have begun arriving home, have gone through at least three tours in Iraq. The 3rd Brigade also served seven months in Afghanistan, early in the war. Next spring, the 4th Brigade will return from a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. So far, roughly 10,000 soldiers have come back; the remainder are expected by the end of January.

Army leaders say they will closely watch Fort Campbell to determine the proper medical staffing levels needed to aid soldiers who have endured repeated rotations in the two war zones.

“I don’t know what to expect. I don’t think anybody knows,” said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, as he flew back to Washington from a recent tour of the base’s medical facilities. “That’s why I want to see numbers from the 101st’s third deployment.”

What happens with the 101st Airborne, he said, will let the Army help other bases ready for similar homecomings in the next year or two, when multiple brigades from the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division return.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081129/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/sol
dier_stress;_ylt=AmE8_PG3c.WU2jnAbvUzG3Ss0NUE

British troops out of Iraq by end of 2009

November 14, 2008

All British troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year, Iraq’s national security advisor said on Friday, days before Baghdad was expected to vote on a controversial US military pact.

“By the end of next year there will be no British troops in Iraq. By the end of 2009,” Muwafaq al-Rubaie said, adding that negotiations between London and Baghdad on the pull-out had begun two weeks ago.

AFP

A defence ministry spokesman in London said in response that Britain has “no timetable” for the withdrawal of its roughly 4,000 troops in Iraq, the vast majority of which are based in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

 

“At the minute, we have no timetable,” the spokesman told AFP.

“We are hopefully making progress, we have made progress in Basra, and we are on course to meet the prime minister’s fundamental change of mission in 2009,” the spokesman said, reiterating previously-stated plans.

Baghdad has been racing to secure separate agreements with both Britain and the United States to replace the UN mandate currently governing the presence of foreign troops in the country, which expires December 31.

Iraq’s cabinet was expected to vote on the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a wide-ranging US military pact, either Saturday or Sunday. The two sides have been wrangling over the document for months.

 

Rubaie insisted however that the agreement Iraq sought with the British was simpler and would not take as much time to complete.

“It will be a much shorter agreement with the UK,” Rubaie said. “And it progresses quite nicely. It’s much shorter and much simpler.”

He added that by the middle of next year there would be a “dramatic” reduction of British troops.

Read the rest:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=081114152119.wticcipl&show_article=1

Ministers must not resort to ‘cheap options’ on defence, says British Army chief

November 14, 2008

Ministers must not take “cheap options” when it comes to equipping the Armed Forces to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the head of the British Army warns today.

By Con Coughlin
The Telegraph (London)
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In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, General Sir Richard Dannatt says the Government has an “absolute responsibility” to provide the best training and equipment for the British men and women serving on the front line.

“If you are committing young people to battle they have to be given the best, and when circumstances change they have to be given the best again,” he said.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt warns ministers must not take

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt warns ministers must not take “cheap options” when it comes to equipping the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

His comments came as the Ministry of Defence announced the death of two Royal Marines in southern Afghanistan, taking the British death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan to 300.

Gen Dannatt, who will retire from the Army next year, has been outspoken on defence issues since taking up his post in 2006.

In 2006, he warned that the Army could ‘break’ if British soldiers were kept too long in Iraq.

And in a leaked report last year, Gen Dannatt warned that years of Government under-funding and overstretch had left troops feeling “devalued, angry and suffering from Iraq fatigue.”

With Britain now preparing to withdraw its 4,000 troops from Iraq next year, pressure is mounting – from sources including Barack Obama, the US president-elect — for more British forces to be sent to Afghanistan.

But Gen Dannatt said that no more British troops should go to Afghanistan, insisting that the Army only has the manpower and resources to fight one foreign war at a time.

“The reason the Army has been under such pressure for the past three years is that we are committed to fighting two wars when we are only structured to fight one,” said Gen. Dannatt. “If we were to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan we would simply replicate the problems.”

He said that many improvements had been made in equipping front line troops during the past two years, but serious consideration needed to be given as to whether it was sufficient that only 5 per cent of the government’s budget was devoted to defence spending.

“Is the amount the government spends on defence the right proportion?” he asked. “There are no cheap options on defence.”

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/
defence/3454085/Ministers-must-not-resort-to-
cheap-options-on-defence-says-British-Army-chief.html

Britain: Two-Thirds Polled Want Troops Out of Afghanistan

November 13, 2008

More than two thirds of people in Britain believe that UK troops should leave Afghanistan within a year, a poll has found.

By John Bingham
The Telegraph, London
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Opposition to the deployment was highest among young people, with three quarters of 18 to 24-year-olds calling for a withdrawal.

Soldiers stand to attention outside St Peter's Church in Colchester, before a memorial service to honour the soldiers from the regiment who were killed in action in Afghanistan

Above: Soldiers stand to attention outside St Peter’s Church in Colchester, before a memorial service to honour the soldiers from the regiment who were killed in action in Afghanistan Photo: PA

The survey, carried out by ICM for the BBC, comes at a time when the Government faces pressure to increase the number of troops in the country.

Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai is meeting Gordon Brown in Downing Street for discussions expected to include a call for more international forces.

Barack Obama, the US President-Elect, is expected to call for Britain to increase its deployment to Afghanistan in support of a “surge” strategy.

British forces in Afghanistan now number just over 8,000, with most operating in the troubled Helmand Province in the south.

A total of 124 British servicemen and women have died in the country since the start of the US-led operation to topple the Taliban regime in late 2001, following the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

But the vast majority of British fatalities have happened in the last two-and-a-half years since the start of the mission to the south.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/
afghanistan/3450783/Two-thirds-want-British-tr
oops-out-of-Afghanistan-poll.html

Veteran’s kin wants answers on PTSD drugs

November 13, 2008

A West Virginia man whose son survived the battlefields of Iraq only to die in his sleep at home is crusading to find other military families whose loved ones also have died after taking drugs prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

By Andrea Billups
The Washington Times 

Stan White’s son Andrew, who was found dead in bed at the family’s Cross Lanes, W.Va., home on Feb. 12, 2007, is one among a cluster of young veterans in the state who have died in their sleep with little explanation. Now Mr. White wants the federal government to monitor the drugs it prescribes to some 375,000 soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental trauma.

So far, he has identified nine veterans across the country – including four in West Virginia – who have died in their sleep after taking antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.

Mr. White has met with members of Congress and asked for Capitol Hill hearings to investigate the deaths. His research prompted a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) investigation into Andrew’s and one other death, which were found to have been caused by “combined drug intoxication.” But the investigation could not determine whether the prescribed medications were at fault….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/nov/13/veterans-kin-demands-answ
ers-on-ptsd-drugs/

US military to abandon Iraqi cities

November 12, 2008

The U.S. military in Iraq is abandoning — deliberately and with little public notice — a centerpiece of the widely acclaimed strategy it adopted nearly two years ago to turn the tide against the insurgency. It is moving American troops farther from the people they are trying to protect.

U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces inspect the site where ...
U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces inspect the site where a roadside bomb injured two electricians in central Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

Starting in early 2007, with Iraq on the brink of all-out civil war, the troops were pushed into the cities and villages as part of a change in strategy that included President Bush’s decision to send more combat forces.

The bigger U.S. presence on the streets was credited by many with allowing the Americans and their Iraqi security partners to build trust among the populace, thus undermining the extremists’ tactics of intimidation, reducing levels of violence and giving new hope to resolving the country’s underlying political conflicts.

Now the Americans are reversing direction, consolidating in larger bases outside the cities and leaving security in the hands of the Iraqis while remaining within reach to respond as the Iraqi forces require.

The U.S. is on track to complete its shift out of all Iraqi cities by June 2009. That is one of the milestones in a political-military campaign plan devised in 2007 by Gen. David Petraeus, when he was the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and his political partner in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The goal also is in a preliminary security pact with the Iraqi government on the future U.S. military presence.

The shift is not explicitly linked to U.S. plans for increasing its military presence in Afghanistan, but there is an important connection: The logistical resources needed to house and supply a larger and more distributed U.S. force in Afghanistan have been tied up in Iraq. To some extent that will be relieved with the consolidation of U.S. forces in Iraq onto larger, outlying bases that are easier to maintain.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081112/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/
iraq_strategy;_ylt=AhbLn0.dRuiUdjhEij8Q5ees0NUE

Veteran’s Day: Remember Their Health Care

November 11, 2008

While fixing the economy will certainly be a dominant issue for both President-elect Obama and the 111th Congress, we hope, on this Veterans Day, that health care for our wounded warriors will also be a top priority. Regrettably, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to continue to add to the numbers of veterans in need of mental and physical treatment and rehabilitation.

To meet this need, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must have sufficient resources provided in a timely and predictable manner next year, and for years to come.

About 18 percent of men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have already returned home at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, according to a recent study by the Rand Corp.

By Raymond Dempsey
The Washington Times

Another 19 percent are estimated of having experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by improvised explosive devices that “rattle” the brain. In total more than 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may already be suffering from these often invisible wounds of war.

In too many cases, the VA is unable to properly treat the physical and mental scars of war, in part because its budget has been late for most of the past two decades, and the amount of funding – which has thankfully grown in the last two years – is wildly unpredictable from year to year.

The result is that the VA is severely constrained in trying to plan or manage its budget. Robert Perreault, a former Veterans Health Administration chief business officer, has rightly noted in congressional testimony that “VA funding and the appropriations process is a process no effective business would tolerate.”

Such haphazard financing can directly affect the quality of care at VA hospitals and clinics across the country. Insufficient or late funding can mean an increase in waiting times for appointments. Purchasing new and replacement medical equipment may be put on hold, further delaying the delivery of needed medical treatment. And life-altering conditions such as PTSD and TBI may go undertreated or are not treated at all if specialized mental health care personnel cannot be hired when needed.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
nov/11/remember-health-care-for-veterans/