Military Mental Health

Reinforcements Dispatched to Afghanistan to Salvage Soldiers’ Brains

The battle against the never-ending detonations of roadside bombs in Afghanistan — which is killing, as well as maiming, thousands of U.S. troops each year — has signed up two new recruits: a pair of state-of-the-art MRI machines are going to begin operating in Afghanistan in hopes of detecting, and treating, traumatic brain …

Dr. Frankenstein — or Military Miracle Worker?

A U.S. military doctor deployed to Iraq subjected troops suffering from traumatic brain injuries to treatment with an unapproved drug, in which he had a financial stake, that may have harmed them, Pentagon investigators report. But a colleague of the doctor insists the probe is a perplexing witch hunt — and that the medication helps …

The Third Rail: Guns and Suicide in the Army

As a top Army psychiatrist until last year, I always found the Army’s silence about guns’ role in our rising suicide rate disquieting. The Army is committed to lowering the rate of suicide. But there’s a curious third rail that is seldom publicly discussed: the risks of suicide by firearm. Approximately 70 percent of Army and …

Bless the “Battlefield Angels”

Soldiers call them “Doc,” but Scott McGaugh calls the military’s medics “Battlefield Angels” in his new book by the same name. Not actually doctors — but not really nurses, either –they’re out on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, armed with guns as well as gauze, and are usually the first ones tending to the physical and …

Be Very Ashamed

Megan McCloskey at Stars and Stripes has just run the first of a two part piece on suicide in the army and it’s a ripper. In it, she details what drove Army Specialist Brushaun Anderson to kill himself at a remote firebase in Iraq on New Year’s Day, 2010. I think it should be required reading for leaders at all levels of the Army.

A …

Progress: Women and Men Show Equal Mental Resilience in War Zones

Apparently war is an equal-opportunity destroyer, screwing up female troops’ minds as much — pretty much no more, no less — than those belonging to their male comrades. That’s the bottom line in a new study trying to contrast the mental wounds of war in both genders.

“Study findings suggest that both exposure to combat-related …

Leadership not Lexicon Will Break the Stigma of PTSD.

My colleague Mark Thompson has mounted three posts mentioning Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder today. I’m not shooting for the superfecta, but I do want to comment on a point Mark made

As I noted in one of my earliest posts here on Battleland, I have struggled with mental health problems. My PTSD diagnosis came in 2002 while I was …

Memorial Day in the Rearview Mirror: Soldiers as Heroes, and Victims

Elspeth Ritchie was on the front lines dealing with the military’s mental-health issues as an Army psychiatrist, including several senior positions following 9/11, for nearly a quarter century. She has studied and tended to troops’ minds on assignments around the world, including in Cuba, Iraq, Somalia, South Korea and Vietnam. She

The Disappearing “Disorder”: Why PTSD is becoming PTS

For years, the U.S. military has referred to the constellation of anxiety, depression and anger many combat troops suffer when they return home as PTSD — Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But in recent months, senior Pentagon officials seem to have gone on a search-and-destroy mission to kill the DDisorder — and now prefer to …


There are a host of new therapies being tried in the struggle against Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among U.S. troops back from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The latest is transcendental meditation, or, as its advocates prefer, Transcendental Meditation™. Pioneered by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s, a peer-reviewed …

Memorial Day, 2011

Memorial Day is a strange holiday when so many Americans are disconnected from the wars now underway. Did you know that over the past week, more than a dozen U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan? It’s easy for me to keep track: I get Pentagon press releases every time a U.S. soldier is killed, sprinkled in among those …

Spouse Training at Walter Reed Wraps Up

Here’s our final dispatch from Gayla Romanowsky, who has been filing to Battleland from the new Significant Others Support Group at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Her husband, Dave, served in Iraq, where he earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Gayla attended the sessions, funded by the non-profit Walter Reed Society, to

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