Thursday, April 17, 2008

A study released today by the RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization, shows that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from an unprecedented healthcare crisis. Here is IAVA's press release on the issue:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 17, 2008

Landmark Study Finds 1 in 5 New Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Face Major Health Care Crisis

NEW YORK – Today, the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, released a groundbreaking study of the mental health of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The historic findings highlight the barriers which prevent thousands of new veterans from accessing quality care for mental health problems and traumatic brain injuries. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest nonpartisan organization for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, issued the following statement:

"This study illustrates a frightening trend among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – that for thousands of these men and women, PTSD, depression and traumatic brain injury are going untreated," said Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "Researchers also found that among the veterans that do get help, only about half are receiving minimally adequate care. These findings are appalling and should serve as a wake-up call for our nation's leaders at every level."

RAND found that PTSD and depression among returning troops will cost the nation as much as $6.2 billion in the two years following deployment – an amount that includes both direct medical care and costs for lost productivity and suicide. Investing in higher quality treatment could save close to $2 billion within two years, by substantially reducing the indirect costs.

"This research confirms what we have been hearing anecdotally for years, that for too many troops, quality health care is inaccessible. As the findings highlight, this crisis is problematic for individual service members and for the country as a whole," said Rieckhoff. "We also learned that many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans do not seek treatment for mental health problems, for fear it will have a negative impact on their careers. It's critical that we reduce these barriers to mental health care and get these heroes the help they need."

The report is titled "Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery." It is the first large-scale, nongovernmental assessment of the psychological and cognitive needs of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The full report and several summaries are available at http://veterans.rand.org.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org ) is the nation's first and largest group for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, IAVA represents more than 85,000 veteran members and civilian supporters in all 50 states.