Mental health disorders among military service members are not uncommon. In fact, in recent years, psychological illness has been a leading cause of hospitalization among U.S. troops.
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Caring for Military Mental Health

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Wartime brings with it an often unspoken military difficulty: psychological disorders and mental health issues for servicemembers. Mental health disorders among military service members are not uncommon. In fact, in recent years, psychological illness has been a leading cause of hospitalization among U.S. troops. A growing number of military service members affected by psychological illnesses directly corresponds to an increase in wartime activity, most recently, the wars waged in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If you or someone in your family is experiencing deep psychological trauma or even moderate mental health difficulty, there is military help available. Your TRICARE healthcare coverage offers financial support for your mental health needs, from counseling through TRICARE TRIAP, to mental health treatment, medication and if needed, hospitalization, through TRICARE ECHO.

RISING TREND OF MILITARY MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS

Of the 138,000 soldiers in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, 10,222 service members were hospitalized for mental health disorders in 2009, almost 19 percent of total Army hospitalizations. Mental health disorders also accounted for ten percent of Marine hospitalizations, about 8 percent of Navy, and 7 percent for the Air Force hospitalizations.

For the first time in the 15-year history of the Pentagon's Medical Surveillance Monthly report, the number of hospitalizations for mental disorders ranked higher than those for injuries or pregnancies. The report noted 17,538 hospitalizations for mental health issues throughout the military, compared to 17,354 for pregnancy and childbirth reasons, and 11,156 for injuries and battle wounds.

UNTREATED MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES WEAKEN MILITARY STRENGTH

What affects individual military service members also affects the military as a whole; our U.S. military should not risk losing manpower to psychological illness. Lost military manpower added up to an incredible 488 years of lost duty in 2009.

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES MAY DRIVE UP HEALTHCARE COSTS

According to USA Today, mental health treatment expenses are helping drive up the overall cost of military health care. Christine Eibner, economist with the RAND Corp, predicts that the costs of treating mental disorders will only grow as more soldiers are affected. For example spending one night in a military hospital cost $3,000 in 2009.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the more serious mental health issues among soldiers who have experienced the traumas of wartime. Other mental health problems such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and readjustment problems, are also prevalent among military service members. None of these military mental health problems should be left untreated
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YOU ARE ENTITLED TO MILITARY MENTAL HEALTHCARE

Psychological disorders are difficult to detect and treat, because they can take months or years to develop and have negative effects on military service members. PSTD is the kind of ailment that escalates over time and potential to develop PSTD increases with prolonged wartime service, leaving military service members at a high risk of developing PTSD after their overseas service. Be aware of any mental health discomfort in yourself, your military colleagues and your military family members; ask for or encourage those you love to seek help. There is help available and TRICARE benefits to help manage the costs. Our military deserves to find relief from mental health problems, and a chance to regain stability and peace of mind.



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