The Cost of Combat Stress: a Billion Dollars a Year
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 18, 2011
A billion for US Soldiers alone. How much would it be if the Defense Base Act Insurance Carriers were providing the psychological and medical care for Injured War Zone Contractors that they are under contract, and often “Orders” to provide?
We have no way of counting contractor casualties much less contractor suicides. Currently there are more contractors on the ground in the war zones than soldiers and many of them exposed to the same dangers and atrocities.
Psychological support for War Zone Contractors is nearly non extistent. Some are able to utilize the severely overburdened VA system. Thousands of foreign contractors are shipped back to their home countries without even the knowledge that they are covered under the Defense Base Act.
Psychological Support and treatment for War Zone Contractors is the responsibility of Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Carrier who are paid well for this.
Apparently the insurance premiums are assumed to be for profit because they are not being used to provide psychological and medical benefits to War Zone Contractors.
In a war, death comes in many forms: jury-rigged bombs, sleek fighter jets, assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades. But a stealthier killer lingers long after the fighting is done, in the psychological toll that combat exacts. More than 6,000 veterans take their own lives every year — about 20 percent of the 30,000 American suicides annually.
In an effort to quantify the psychological cost of war, a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research has come up with the magic numbers. They estimate that lower-bound costs of mental health problems from the global war on terror are between $750 million and $1.35 billion annually.
Despite trying everything from portable weatherproof brain scanners to drug treatments with ecstasy and MDMA, service members are still suffering with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues.
In fact, 26 percent of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are depressed, drug and alcohol-dependent, homeless or suicidal, says the NBER report. This quoted number was independently calculated in a study done by the Rand Corporation, a non-profit policy and research think tank.
The NBER report brings some fresh insights to the table. Rather than assessing the mental impact of war through a measure of soldiers’ deployment length as other studies have done, this report assesses trauma through the type of combat soldiers have been involved in.
Although the results are pretty intuitive, the report establishes that those soldiers who “engage in frequent enemy firefight or witness allied or civilian deaths are at substantially increased risk for suicidal ideation, psychological counseling, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
So, when the military decides which soldiers to deploy for active combat, they should be cognizant of where and not necessarily for how long, the soldier has been deployed before.
Also interesting: This report is the first military mental health study to use longitudinal data, from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, conducted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The dataset is a collection of health information from high school kids in 1994. The study did its most recent follow-up in 2008. It’s useful for diagnostic PTSD research because it includes and reflects childhood mental health of many current troops from their pre-service days, allowing scientists to look for early portents of PTSD development.
The signs of mental health deterioration have been red flag for a few years now.
The number of soldier suicides (129) reported in the first seven months of 2009 by The New York Times was higher than the number of active troops killed during combat in that time.