Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Thursday, May 18, 2006

USE OF UNFIT TROOPS BLASTED................................................................................

Senators Criticize Troops Blasted


U.S. Jospeh I. Lieberman called Wednesday for a federal investigation of mental health screening for troops deploying to Iraq. The Courant reported in a series that mentally ill service members are being sent to war and kept there, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld expressing "disgust" at a revelation in the series that the military was sending troops with post-traumatic stress disorder back into combat.

"You cannot simply have doctors prescribe psychiatric drugs such as Zoloft and send these men and women back to a combat zone," Boxer wrote. "No matter what the Defense Department's recruiting shortfalls, it is absolutely immoral to send soldiers who have been diagnosed as suffering from PTSD back into a combat zone."

Lieberman, a member of the Senate Arms Services Committee, sent letters Wednesday to the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general of the Defense Department, asking each agency to investigate the military's pre-deployment screening practices. Lieberman said he was particularly concerned by The Courant's finding that among troops who indicated a possible mental health problem, only 6.5% were referred to a mental health specialist before they were deemed deployable.

"Clearly, our soldiers are experiencing unusually high levels of stress," Lieberman wrote in his letter to the inspector general, "but if the military is doing an inadequate job of assessing the severity of mental health problems in those deploying, and then placing them in further danger, their lives are [at] greater risk."

Lieberman (D-Conn), said Wednesday that he was also "exploring legislative options" to improve mental health screening for troops, which consists of one question on a self-reported questionnaire. "We put our faith in the men and women of our armed services to protect us every day; they should expect and deserve to have the same faith in us," Lieberman said. The Courant's investigation, he added, "reveals that the deployment system's faulty implementation of mental health screening has betrayed the trust of our soldiers and their families. This is unacceptable and inexcusable."

In an interview earlier this week, William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, defended the military's policies on mental health screening and treatment, saying the armed forces have put a greater emphasis on mental health now than at any time in history. He said he believes the military is in compliance with a 1997 order by Congress that it conduct an "assessment of mental health" on all deploying troops.

Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley said he, too, was satisfied with pre-deployment screening. But he would not oppose expanding the screening, he said, "if we have evidence it would make a difference."

After a 2003 spike in suicides among troops deployed to the Iraq war, the military pledged to improve mental health services for troops, increasing the number of combat-stress teams in the war zone and expanding suicide prevention programs. The suicide rate dropped in 2004, but climbed back up in 2005.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd Sistrict), who has pushed for the military to conduct face-to-face mental health evaluations of returning troops, said Wednesday she believed using a questionnaire for pre-deployment screening may be inadequate as well.

"If they self-report, you're never going to get a full [mental health] assessment," DeLauro said. "You've got to see them when they're going in; you've got to see them when they're going out."

DeLauro said she was also concerned by The Courant's findings that the military was relying increasingly on the use of antidepressants in the war zone, sometimes with minimal counseling and monitoring. Antidepressants carry government warnings about a risk of side effects, including increased suicidal urges, when they are first prescribed.

"We've now established a link between antidepressants and suicide. We know you have to strictly monitor them," she said. "Who's making that assessment [in the combat zone]?"

The military also uses a self-reported questionnaire to assess the mental health troops completing tours in Iraq---a practice some say fails to detect PTSD and other combat-related disorders.

"We can't be satisfied with questionnaires," Senator John Kerry (D-Mass), said Wednesday in a statement. "We need to give our troops and our veterans hands-on care, no matter what it costs."

Source: The Hartford Courant
Story By: Matthew Kauffman and Lisa Chedekel
May 18, 2006

* I can't understand the comment made by Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley! He says that he is satisfied with pre-deployment screening, but would not oppose expanding the screening, "if we had evidence it would make a difference." They have the perfect opportunity to start conducting a new option to "their" pre-deployment screening. They are at war now! These kids in Iraq grew up in a completely different era and society than those who served during the Vietnam War. The first Gulf War wasn't long enough to be able to conduct such screenings. Things have changed and we have to dig deep into our main asset of our fighting forces. "Our Troops and Their minds!" Let's face it, growing up playing these computer games just didn't cut it when it comes to the "real thing." Animation isn't the same as actually seeing someone get blown apart!

So, with all due respect to our Army Sugeon General Kiley, how can we get evidence of something that will make a difference, if we don't try to find a new way of conducting things in this new millenium? Let's face it, these kids are a "completely different" bunch then when you and I were their age. Comparing them to the troops that were in Vietnam, would be like comparing 50-year-old people to the kids raised in the late 1890's or early 1900's. We all have a different way of life and cultures. Treat them like they came from a different time.

That is one of this administration's problems. They are stuck in the past and don't want to move ahead. They won't let us get past 9/11, and believe me, the American people will always remember it as we do Pearl Harbor. Quit keeping us in this administration's time period and move on. The world used to look at us for these changes. Now, they look away!

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