War makes soldiers mentally ill

This video from the USA is called Veterans of PTSD PBS NOW.

From the Deutsches Aerzteblatt International in Germany:

War causes mental illness in soldiers

19 September 2012

One in every two cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers remains undiagnosed. This is the conclusion reached by a working group led by Hans-Ulrich Wittchen et al. They report their study in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(35–36): 559–568), which is a special issue focusing on the prevalence of psychological stress in German army soldiers. In a second original article, results reported by Jens T Kowalski and colleagues show that more female soldiers contact the psychosocial support services provided by Germany’s armed forces than their male colleagues (Dtsch Arztbl Int 2012; 109 (35–36): 559–568).

Wittchen et al. draw attention to the fact that thus far no information has been available on how commonly soldiers have traumatic experiences during deployments to Afghanistan and develop PSTD. In their study, 85% of all soldiers deployed overseas reported at least one distressing event, but usually several such events. Overseas deployment is associated with twice or four times the risk of PTSD for soldiers. In international comparison, the prevalence of PTSD is notably lower in German soldiers, at 2.9%, than in soldiers from other countries who are deployed in the same regions. However, the estimated proportion of undiagnosed and untreated cases of PTSD is 45%.

Kowalski et al. explain that it is not only Afghanistan from where soldiers return in a traumatized state but also Kosovo. The number of Kosovo returnees with mental problems in their study increased significantly compared to the number of traumatized soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The study is based on hospital data of all German army psychiatric wards; these data evaluated the psychiatric morbidities between January 2010 through June 2011. The most common diagnoses were adjustment disorders, PSTD, and mild and moderate depressive episodes.


Accompanying Editorial:



Full bibliographic informationTraumatic Experiences and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Soldiers Following Deployment Abroad. How Big Is the Hidden Problem?
Hans-Ulrich Wittchen*, Sabine Schönfeld*, Clemens Kirschbaum, Christin Thurau, Sebastian Trautmann, Susann Steudte, Jens Klotsche, Michael Höfler, Robin Hauffa, Peter Zimmermann
Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(35–36): 559–568)

A US soldier who fled to Canada to avoid the war in Iraq has been arrested at the US border after being deported: here.

9 thoughts on “War makes soldiers mentally ill

  1. The returnees from the Second World War also had this severe problem. Divorcces, waking in the middle of the night screaming, mistaking a friend or spouse for the enemy, etc.. War is not pretty. It is too bad that the human condition has not changed in that respect.


    • Definitely. I know that personally about, eg, a South African WW II veteran.

      However, I would not be surprised if the present wars would be even worse than World War II in this respect. Compared to other wars, the war against Hitler was widely seen as a “good war”. If, as a soldier, eg, you have contributed to liberating a nazi concentration camp, you may not get PTSD etc. as soon as returnees from Iraq or Afghanistan.


      • It is my personal belief that the Afghanistan and Iraq veterans also believe that their efforts were for a good cause. I think their problem results from being extended again and again for multiple tours of duty. We (the USA) should have gone to either a draft or a policy where EVERY ABLE BODIED MAN served a tour of duty. But that is my opinion and not necessarily the best answer.


        • Some of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may indeed believe that. However, look at Iraq Veterans against the War:


          There was no similar movement among World War II veterans, even though they were far more in number than in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

          The multiple tours of duty, even sometimes for injured soldiers, contribute indeed to PTSD etc.


          • It was a different time. A time when we believed in what we were doing. The Vietnam war changed all that. What we are now experiencing is the shadow of that embarrasement. Most of our soldiers and citizens are still disturbed (read that as PISSED OFF) about 9/11. And now the same emotions abound about our Ambassador in Libya (ref: my rant on your post of a week ago). I would like to know how many people spent time looking for the topless photos of Kate Middleton as opposed to those looking for the horrid photos of our Ambassador being beat to hell and murdered by the same rotten filthy people who did 9/11. No wonder we are pissed off. The moderate muslims are as guilty as the radicals for not speaking out about this. Shame on them and shame on any US citizens and soldiers for not recognizing that there is a religious sect that is as arrogant and nutty as the Christian sects were during the Crusades.


  2. “It was a different time. A time when we believed in what we were doing.” It was a time when there were reasons for that difference. Hitler was a threat to the whole world. He declared war on the USA in the first place; not the other way round.

    Saddam Hussein did not declare war on the USA. He was a threat, maybe to Iran in the 1980s, but hardly to the whole world in 2003. He had nothing to do with 9/11, as the Bush administration admitted after the Iraq invasion. He had no weapons of mass destruction, as the Bush administration admitted after the Iraq invasion.

    Saddam Hussein was a vicious dictator, but not a dictator like Hitler. Eventually, the people of Iraq would have driven him away, like happened with Mubarak in Egypt. That would have saved a million or more deaths resulting from Bush’s invasion. US soldiers in 1945 saved Hitler’s concentration camp inmates from death. When US soldiers in 2003 arrived at Saddam’s Abu Ghraib jail, it was empty, as Saddam just before the invasion had pardoned all prisoners so that the jailers might join the army. Soon, Abu Ghraib became fuller than ever, and new jails were built as Saddam’s were not big enough. And the torture re-started.

    Moderate Muslims in Libya and elsewhere have very clearly spoken out, and demonstrated, against the killing of the US ambassador to Libya.

    See, eg, these photos from Benghazi:



  3. Pingback: US soldiers, PTSD, and union busting | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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