According to the Department of Veterans Affairs Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as a condition resulting from exposure to direct or indirect threat of death, serious injury or a physical threat” (VA, 2010, p.1). The recent analysis and reporting on PTSD by Veterans groups and the medical community is commendable. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs in June 2010, there were 171,423 deployed Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans diagnosed with PTSD, out of total of 593,634 patients treated by VA (www.va.gov). Thus far 84,005 Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veteran patients have been granted VA disability compensation; of that about half for PTSD.
Often disregarded is the fact that many of our wounded veterans are surviving injuries that would have resulted in their fatality in wars past. Recently, I read The Long-term Costs of Providing Veterans Medical Care and Disability Benefits (2007) “As of September 30, 2006, more than 50,500 US soldiers have suffered non-mortal wounds in Iraq, Afghanistan and nearby staging locations —a ratio of 16 wounded servicemen for every fatality. This is by far the highest killed-to-wounded ratio in US history.”
If this ratio still exists today it will require further medical treatment for our wounded veterans in addition to treating TBI and PTSD. Given the escalating costs of medical care and budget constraints it will be interesting to see if Congress maintains it’s commitment to supporting the troops after they have left the battlefield.
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Department of Veterans Affairs (2010). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/va-ptsd-treatment-programs.asp
Harvard University (2007). Long-term Costs of Providing Veterans Medical Care and Disability Benefits Retrieved from http://www.co.clark.wa.us/veterans/documents/Returning%20Soldiers.pdf