Hot Document

This Is Your Brain On Iraq

The Army earlier this month released a mental-health assessment of Army and Marine Corps troops in Iraq. This is the report that stirred Gen. David Petraeus to admonish troops to “respect human dignity, maintain our integrity and do what is right” (see previous Hot Document, “Petraeus to Troops: ‘Respect Human Dignity“). Excerpts from a 30-page summary of the report appear below and on the following nine pages.

The troops participated in focus groups, talked to interviewers, and filled out surveys describing their combat experiences (“The most stressful part of my job is going out every day and waiting to get blown up”—page 4); deployment distress (“I gave five years of my life … I’ve done my part, let me go home”—page 6); and marital concerns (“Marriages that were once solid as rock are crumbling”—page 8). Suicide rates are more than 50 percent higher in Iraq than the rest of the Army (page 9). 

The advisory team’s recommendations include revising the suicide prevention program “specific to the [Iraqi] area of operations” (below); sharing mental health data with commanders “in the same manner and detail” as information is shared about the wounded (page 2); and training mid-level noncommissioned officers in “behavioral health awareness” (page 3).

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