"Going Without"

February 26, 2007
Troops' needs not met, psychological group says

Gregg Zoroya, USA Today - February 25, 2007

A task force of the nation's largest group of mental health professionals warns that the U.S. military is not fully addressing the needs of troops and family members traumatized by war.

In a report issued Sunday, the American Psychological Association task force said families are particularly at risk. It noted that 700,000 children have had a parent sent overseas since Sept. 11, 2001, and estimated that 2,733 children have lost a parent killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"Many service personnel and their family members are going without mental health care because of the limited availability of such care and the barriers to accessing care," a news release accompanying the study said.

A Pentagon spokeswoman would not comment on the study but defended the Pentagon's record in general. The report identifies several key problems, including:

  • The Pentagon failed to implement the best mental health treatment programs across the military. Rather, plans varied by installation and included only a few that were deemed high quality.
  • The military hasn't hired enough psychologists. The study notes a 22% decline in the number of uniformed clinical psychologists in the military and a 40% vacancy among licensed clinical psychologist positions in the Army and Navy.
  • Not enough research has been done on the war's impact on military spouses and children. "Given that our country has been at war for nearly six years, the absence of systematic research ... is striking," the study said.
  • Indeed, and indicative of a much larger void in oversight of the war, of our troops' well being, and virtually anything else that existed over the past six years in the House. Democrats have already conducted 71 hearings on Iraq alone, and will continue to be vigilant in conducting oversight for the protection of our troops, of the taxpayer's money, and the integrity of our government.

    UPDATE: More on the strain on our troops and military readiness from the AP:

    Governors worry about Iraq's toll on Guard

    Associated Press - February 26, 2007

    Several governors told a top National Guard official Sunday they are concerned about the toll the Iraq war is taking on their state forces.

    The governors said they were closely monitoring deployment of their troops, worn-out equipment and how ready they would be for domestic emergencies.