Thursday, 6 August 2009

Andy MacNab and Liam Fox at the Opposition's Military Mental Health summit in Westminster

President Obama's thoughts on PTSD

U.S. President Barack Obama hopes that increasing the size of the force will help to reduce incidents of stress. He told reporters at the White House yesterday that There is a direct connection between the problems of PTSD and the pace of military operations. Obama said he wants to reduce the incidents of PTSD. And one of the best ways to do that, he said, is to reduce the amount of time in theater without a break.

The US army is keeping some men on beyond their original contracts, and will temporarily be increasing the active force by 22,000 members That is step 1 in reducing stress. Obama sees screening as step 2 - getting the armed forces to talk about these issues, encouraging people to avail themselves of services while they’re in theater, but also when they get home. He acknowledged the “much more aggressive, systemic screening” that the Veterans Agency conducts for every veteran entering its system.

Step 3 is to provide mental health services to those who need them. He said throwing money at the problem by itself is not enough, but it does help by funding more counselors, mental health specialists and treatment facilities. The US VA now has over 18,000 mental health providers working on the stress problem.