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Army Bases Prepare For Surge In Stress-Related Disorders

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Army officials have said they will examine Fort Campbell in Kentucky, where 15,000 soldiers are expected to arrive after multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, to determine the proper staffing levels to address brain injuries and psychological problems, the AP/Washington Post reports.

In an effort to assess the long-term impact of repeated deployments, Army officials have nearly doubled the size of the psychological health staff at Fort Campbell. According to the AP/Post, as many as one in five soldiers returning to Fort Campbell could have stress-related disorders.

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Col. Richard Thomas, director of health services at Fort Campbell, now has 55 authorized behavioral specialists and psychologists on staff and is looking to hire more. Thomas said that for the first time, every returning soldier will have an individual session with a behavioral health specialist and then a second session 90 days to 120 days later, a time when stress disorder symptoms commonly surface. Bret Logan, deputy commander for managed care at Fort Campbell, estimates that 3,000 of the 15,000 returning soldiers might experience stress disorder symptoms, adding that while 85% of those soldiers will recover with the help of some treatment or medication, 15% will require more intensive assistance. Fort Campbell health officials are concerned about a new surge in suicides related to stress disorders.

Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, said Fort Campbell will help the Army determine the appropriate staffing levels needed to assist soldiers at other bases, which in coming years will be welcoming home similar divisions that have served multiple rotations. More than 63,600 active duty soldiers, nearly 12% of the total number of soldiers who have been deployed, have completed three or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the AP/Post.

The AP/Post reports that the Army has considered forming mobile medical and psychological units that can travel to military bases because many military bases are located near small or remote communities without a large number of health professionals (Baldor, AP/Washington Post, 11/30).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.