Daily Archives: April 18, 2008

Mental health injuries scar 300,000 U.S. troops

Only half of vets have sought help for depression, post-traumatic stress

MSNBC | Apr 17, 2008

About 320,000 U.S. soldiers have suffered brain injuries in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new study estimates.

WASHINGTON – Some 300,000 U.S. troops are suffering from major depression or post traumatic stress from serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 received brain injuries, a new study estimates.

Only about half have sought treatment, said the study released Thursday by the RAND Corporation.

“There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Terri Tanielian, the project’s co-leader and a researcher at the nonprofit RAND.

“Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for these mental health conditions, there will be long-term consequences for them and for the nation,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The 500-page study is the first large-scale, private assessment of its kind — including a survey of 1,965 service members across the country, from all branches of the armed forces and including those still in the military as well veterans who have left the services.

Its results appear consistent with a number of mental health reports from within the government, though the Defense Department has not released the number of people it has diagnosed or who are being treated for mental problems. The Department of Veterans Affairs said this month that its records show about 120,000 who served in the two wars and are no longer in the military have been diagnosed with mental health problems. Of the 120,000, approximately 60,000 are suffering from PTSD, the VA said.

Veterans Affairs is responsible for care of service members after they have left the service, while the Defense Department covers active duty and reservist needs. The lack of information from the Pentagon was one motivation for the RAND study, Tanielian said.

Problems affect more than 18 percent of troops

The most prominent and detailed military study on mental health that is released is the Army’s survey of soldiers at the warfront. Officials said last month that it’s most recent one, done last fall, found 18.2 percent of soldiers suffered a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or acute stress in 2007 compared with 20.5 percent the previous year.

The Rand study, completed in January, put the percentage of PTSD and depression at 18.5 percent, calculating that approximately 300,000 current and former service members were suffering from those problems at the time of its survey, which was completed in January.

The figure is based on Pentagon data showing over 1.6 million military personnel have deployed to the conflicts since the war in Afghanistan began in late 2001.

Advertisements

More airports using virtual strip-search machines to observe naked bodies

scanner

A computer monitor viewed by a Transportation Security Administration TSA officer reveals details of the body of a fully-clothed employee of L3 Communications Security and Detection Systems as she is scanned inside a ProVision whole body imaging machine at Los Angeles International Airport.
Pictures: AFP

Related

Graphic scanners leave no bone unturned

The Age | Apr 18, 2008

Airports in New York and Los Angeles have become the latest equipped with body scanners that allow security screeners to peer beneath a passenger’s clothing to detect concealed weapons.

The machines, which are about the size of a revolving door, use low-energy electromagnetic waves to produce a computerised image of a traveller’s entire body.

Passengers step in and lift their arms. The scans only take a minute, and Transportation Security Administration officials say the procedure is less invasive than a physical frisk for knives, bombs or guns.

Someday, the “millimetre wave” scans might replace metal detectors, but for now they are being used selectively.

Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York saw their first scanners installed on Thursday, each at a single checkpoint. Phoenix Sky-Harbor International Airport got one of the machines in October.

Modest travellers may have concerns about the images.

The black and white, three-dimensional scans aren’t as vivid as a photograph, but they do reveal some of the more intimate curves of the human form, maybe with as much clarity as an impressionist sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

TSA officials say the system comes with privacy protections. Officers reviewing the images don’t interact with passengers, or even see them. They sit in a separate area, look at the pictures on a monitor and push a button to either clear travellers or alert security about a suspicious item.

Images will not be recorded or stored. Passenger faces are blurred to further protect their identities.

For now, the scans will also be voluntary. Flyers selected for a secondary screening after passing through the metal detectors will have the option of stepping into the wave scanner, rather than undergoing a physical pat-down.

“We’re giving people a choice,” said TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding.

Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s program on technology and liberty, said he nevertheless had concerns.

“The images that I’ve seen are quite revealing,” he said. “I guarantee you that as this gets more commonly used, you’ll be seeing these images on the Internet.”

The TSA said millimetre wave scanners, which cost as much as $US120,000 ($128,000) apiece, are already in limited use at international airports in seven countries and at a handful of courthouses and jails in five states.

Their introduction to US airports is on a trial basis while authorities evaluate their effectiveness. The TSA said the devices pose no health risk and project 10,000 times less energy than a mobile phone transmission.

________

Related

Are Body Scanners Humiliating?

Plans For All Airline Passengers to Wear Taser Bracelets

Pentagon institute calls Iraq war `a major debacle’

Myrtle Beach Online | Apr 17, 2008

By Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott – Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON | The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle” and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute.

The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush’s projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.

The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.

It was published by the university’s National Institute for Strategic Studies, a Defense Department research center.

“Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle,” says the report’s opening line.

At the time the report was written last fall, more than 4,000 U.S. and foreign troops, more than 7,500 Iraqi security forces and as many as 82,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed and tens of thousands of others wounded, while the cost of the war since March 2003 was estimated at $450 billion.

“No one as yet has calculated the costs of long-term veterans’ benefits or the total impact on service personnel and materiel,” wrote Collins, who was involved in planning post-invasion humanitarian operations.

The report said that the United States has suffered serious political costs, with its standing in the world seriously diminished. Moreover, operations in Iraq have diverted “manpower, materiel and the attention of decision-makers” from “all other efforts in the war on terror” and severely strained the U.S. armed forces.

“Compounding all of these problems, our efforts there [in Iraq] were designed to enhance U.S. national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East,” the report continued.

The addition of 30,000 U.S. troops to Iraq last year to halt the country’s descent into all-out civil war has improved security, but not enough to ensure that the country emerges as a stable democracy at peace with its neighbors, the report said.

“Despite impressive progress in security, the outcome of the war is in doubt,” said the report. “Strong majorities of both Iraqis and Americans favor some sort of U.S. withdrawal. Intelligence analysts, however, remind us that the only thing worse than an Iraq with an American army may be an Iraq after a rapid withdrawal of that army.”

“For many analysts (including this one), Iraq remains a `must win,’ but for many others, despite obvious progress under General David Petraeus and the surge, it now looks like a `can’t win.”’

The report lays much of the blame for what went wrong in Iraq after the initial U.S. victory at the feet of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. It says that in November 2001, before the war in Afghanistan was over, President Bush asked Rumsfeld “to begin planning in secret for potential military operations against Iraq.”

Rumsfeld, who was closely allied with Vice President Dick Cheney, bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the report says, and became “the direct supervisor of the combatant commanders.”

”The aggressive, hands-on Rumsfeld,” it continues, “cajoled and pushed his way toward a small force and a lightning fast operation.” Later, he shut down the military’s computerized deployment system, “questioning, delaying or deleting units on the numerous deployment orders that came across his desk.”

In part because “long, costly, manpower-intensive post-combat operations were anathema to Rumsfeld,” the report says, the U.S. was unprepared to fight what Collins calls “War B,” the battle against insurgents and sectarian violence that began in mid-2003, shortly after “War A,” the fight against Saddam Hussein’s forces, ended. Compounding the problem was a series of faulty assumptions made by Bush’s top aides, among them an expectation fed by Iraqi exiles that Iraqis would be grateful to America for liberating them from Saddam’s dictatorship. The administration also expected that “Iraq without Saddam could manage and fund its own reconstruction.”

The report also singles out the Bush administration’s national security apparatus and implicitly President Bush and both of his national security advisers, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, saying that “senior national security officials exhibited in many instances an imperious attitude, exerting power and pressure where diplomacy and bargaining might have had a better effect.”

To read the report:
http://www.ndu.edu/inss/Occasional_Papers/OP5.pdf