By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Newly diagnosed cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among U.S. troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan surged 46.4 percent in 2007, bringing the five-year total to nearly 40,000, according to U.S. military data released on Tuesday.
The statistics, released by the Army, showed the number of new PTSD cases formally diagnosed at U.S. military facilities climbed to 13,981 last year from 9,549 in 2006.
The numbers rose as President George W. Bush poured extra forces into Iraq to try to quell sectarian violence and extended Army tours from 12 to 15 months. The United States has also sent more forces to Afghanistan.
The figures, encompassing all four branches of the U.S. armed services, showed that the Army alone had 10,049 new PTSD cases last year.
This brings to 39,366 the number of PTSD cases diagnosed at military facilities between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2007, among troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
The totals include 28,365 cases for the Army, 5,641 for the Marines, 2,884 for the Navy and 2,476 for the Air Force.
Army officials said the larger number of PTSD diagnoses in recent years partly reflects greater awareness and tracking of the disorder by the U.S. military.