Mullen Calls for Mandatory PTSD Screening

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants all US service personnel returning from combat to be screened for post-traumatic stress by a medical health professional as a means to get ahead of the rising trend of psychological issues among veterans. USA Today reported Oct. 13 that Mullen thinks post-traumatic stress disorder is “a bigger problem” than is acknowledged and it’s time for military leaders to step forward on the issue and overcome the lingering stigma among military members that having a psychological problem is a sign of weakness and would threaten a military career. According to a study completed earlier this year by RAND, about 18.5 percent of all returning service personnel suffer from PTSD or depression. At the time of the study, this meant about 300,000 personnel. Treating them effectively would cost between $4 billion and $6.2 billion, RAND estimated. Earlier this year, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, Army Surgeon General, acknowledged that, despite progress in identifying soldiers at risk, the land service really doesn’t know how many of its soldiers actually suffer from PTSD since symptoms sometimes don’t show until months after returning from a deployment and much of the data are dependent on soldiers volunteering information, which gets back to the stigma issue mentioned above. That said, the Pentagon is spending unprecedented amounts of money to come up with better way of helping service personnel cope with and overcome PTSD as well as traumatic brain disorder.