Battleland

The Hidden (High) Cost of War

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Chris Hondros / Getty Images

Members of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y., take a smoke break at their outpost north of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in 2010.

It’s always surprising to discover the costs of war that you incur…after the war.

It seems Fort Drum, the Army post just outside Watertown, N.Y., has an “urgent requirement” for extra mental-health care.

That should hardly come as a surprise: as a detailed account of the casualties resulting from the troop surge in Afghanistan in Wednesday’s New York Times pointed out, the fort’s 10th Mountain Division, along with Fort Campbell’s 101st Airborne, based in Kentucky, are the two U.S. military units that have suffered the most casualties over the past two years.

Physical wounds often translate into mental wounds. The Behavioral Health Department at the fort’s Guthrie Army Health Clinic is overwhelmed.

So the post is seeking a civilian, off-base clinic with eight mental-health professionals: a pair of psychiatrists, a pair of psychologists, and four social workers.

Their jobs? Well, according to the recently-published Army solicitation, they “will include, but are not limited to”:

– Providing services for high-risk populations including Active Duty Service Members (ADSMs) pending medical discharge due to physical and/or behavioral health injuries/illnesses, ADSMs who were wounded as a result of their military duties.

– Assessing and resolving complex social, economic and psychosocial problems that may impact on ADSMs’ medical treatment as outpatients by providing direct casework services, to include screening, assessment, treatment, referral, consultation and education.

– Conducting psychosocial evaluations and providing therapeutic interventions including crisis counseling and medication management to individuals, groups and families as needed to facilitate behavioral health clinical care management and optimize care.

– Evaluating the impact of diagnosis or lack of diagnosis with unexplained chronic symptoms on individual and family systems as well as assessing patient’s functioning within work, family and routines of daily living and identifying areas needing continued support, resources, and treatment in order to assist patients.

– Evaluating the individual and family systems as well as assessing patient’s functioning within work, family and routines of daily living and identifying areas needing continued support, resources, and treatment in order to assist patients.

“The clinic shall be within 10-20 driving minutes of the North Gate, a 24 hour access point, on the Fort Drum installation,” the solicitation says. “This clinic will provide Behavioral Health services for approximately 19,000 Active Duty Soldiers stationed at Fort Drum, NY.”

How much will they be paid? “Total compensation for each health care provider (employee) shall not exceed $400,000 per year,” the solicitation notes. “Overtime is not authorized.”

War costs.

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