Mesopotamia’s Mental Medevacs Mounted In War’s Final Years

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Here’s a pair of fascinating Pentagon charts. The one on the left is for U.S. male troops medically evacuated from the Iraq war over the past eight years; the one on the right tracks the same among female U.S. troops (more than 50,000 of both genders left this way). For about the first four years of the war, battlefield and other physical ills eclipsed all other causes of such emergency trips to medical facilities outside the theater. But note how that dotted purple line – mental disorders – began surging just as violence peaked about 2007. For the final four years of the U.S. war in Iraq, mental disorders constituted the fastest-growing, and sometimes biggest, reason troops were medically evacuated from the country.

“Since 2007 among both male and female participants, the proportion of medical evacuations due to battle injuries sharply decreased while the proportion due to mental disorders increased,” a new Pentagon assessment says. “The recent increase in mental disorder-related evacuations from Iraq may reflect, at least in part, increased awareness of, concern regarding, and health care resources dedicated to detecting and clinically managing psychological, stress-related disorders (e.g., PTSD, depression, suicide ideation) among deployers.”

As well as reflecting, at least in part, that war is hell.