The Cost of Iraq War: Impact of Five-Year War on Our Troops

The Impact of Five-Year War on Our Troops

Today, the Army's Mental Health Advisory Team released a new assessment of the mental and physical health of our brave soldiers deployed to Iraq. While unit morale has gone up since 2006 — only 11.2 percent of those surveyed would rate their unit morale as high or very high. Overall, the report underscores the grave toll the President's five-year war is having on our troops.

Selected Findings from the Army's Report (pdf):


· “Soldiers on multiple deployments report low morale, more mental health problems, and more stress-related work problems.” (pg. 13)

· “Primary Care personnel report significant increases in the number of medications prescribed for sleep, depression, and anxiety relative to 2006.” (pg. 14)

· “Soldiers who were on their second deployment or on their third/fourth deployment were at increased risk for low morale, mental health problems and degraded performance due to stress or emotional problems.” (pg. 50)

· “Military suicide continues to be a significant problem in Iraq.” (pg. 84)

· “As the troop footprint in Iraq has surged, the number of mental health providers relative to the number of Soldiers has decreased.” (pg. 91)

· “Reports of work-related problems due to stress, mental health problems and marital separations generally increased with each subsequent month of the deployment…” (pg. 4)

· “11.2% of Soldiers met the screening criteria for concussion (also called mild Traumatic Brain Injury – mTBI). Less than half of these were evaluated by a medical professional.” (pg. 12)

· “Even with an improvement in reports of mental health in the last months of the deployment, nearly three times as many Soldiers would be expected to report mental health problems at month 15 than would be expected to report problems at month one.” (pg. 13)

· “Soldiers and NCOs were also asked what, if anything, their leaders could do to help Soldier morale during the deployment…One Soldier plaintively asked ‘why are we doing this? If I had a better understanding of the big picture then maybe …[ that would help].’” (pg. 60)


On preparation and training:

“The language classes don’t work. We need a basic knowledge, what they gave us doesn’t work. To say stop, ‘Kief’, it means slow down not stop. A guy was walking up to us all crazy, but we were yelling kief, so I pointed my gun at him and looked to my guys. I yelled, kief, but later found out that it means to slow down, not stop. I almost shot this guy at a check point because I was wrong. They need to do something about the language thing.” (pg. 64)

On need for more training before deployment:

“Last time we were really ready. But this time we were not, and it has shown … in our battalion we are combined arms and they did not know how to integrate them all …people really learned on the job. A lot of these things could have been addressed before we came given the time — might have resulted in less loss of life.” (pg. 60)

On impact of extended deployments on marriages:

“15-month deployments destroy marriages.” (pg. 62)

The hundreds of thousands of brave men and women in uniform serving in Iraq — and their families — deserve more from the Bush Administration than the rising stress and strain of an endless war. Democrats are committed to a New Direction in Iraq that holds the President accountable, provides real support to our men and women in uniform and will bring our troops home safely, honorably, and soon.

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