Mental Health Costs for Combat Veterans…$1 Billion a Year
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The psychological impact of war may be costing the United States more than $1 billion a year, according to a new federally-sponsored study.
The National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that mental health problems stemming from soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing the country between $750 million and $1.35 billion each year.
Researchers say 26% of war veterans suffer from depression, substance abuse, homelessness or thoughts of suicide, according to a different study by the Rand Corporation.
About 6,000 veterans commit suicide annually, representing 20% of all such deaths in the U.S.
The researchers suggest that length of deployment in a war zone is less of a factor in developing mental health problems than is the type of combat encountered. They found “that the psychological costs of combat are largest for soldiers exposed to violent combat events such as frequent enemy firefight. Soldiers who kill someone (or believe they have killed someone), are injured in combat, or witness the death or wounding of a civilian or coalition member are at substantially increased risk of suicidal ideation, depressive symptomatology, and PTSD.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
The Cost of Combat Stress: a Billion Dollars a Year (by Madhumita Venkataramanan, Wired)
The Psychological Cost of War: Military Combat and Mental Health (by Resul Cesur, Joseph J. Sabia and Erdal Tekin, National Bureau of Economic Research) (pdf)
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