A new study shows that more than 40% of US soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seen by VA hospitals are suffering from mental health disorders or psychosocial behavioral problems.
Data was collected on 289,328 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who sought health care at VA medical centers from 2002 to 2008.
106,726 of the returning veterans received mental health care. That's approximately 37 percent. 62,929 vets were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and 50,432 were diagnosed with depression.
"When the definition is expanded to include diagnoses of mental health disorders or psychosocial behavioral problems such as homelessness, or both, 43 percent of these veterans received these diagnoses" said lead researcher Dr. Karen Seal.
Findings from the study
1. 22% of veterans were diagnosed with PTSD
2. 17% of veterans were diagnosed with depression
3. 7% of veterans were diagnosed with alcohol use disorder
4. 3% of veterans were diagnosed with drug use disorder
5. 29% of veterans with mental health problems were diagnosed with 2 of the above disorders
6. 33% of veterans with mental health problems were diagnosed with 3 of the above disorders
7. Most mental health diagnoses were not made in the first year that a veteran entered the VA health-care system, but several years after.
Mark Kaplan, a professor of community health at the School of Community Health at Portland State University in Oregon, noted that the study only covers vets who have received care at the VA, but there are many more with serious mental health problems that are either seeking care privately or not at all, he said.