Much of the information below was gleaned from a well written USA Today story entitled Mental toll of war hitting female servicemembers. Early in the story the writer tells about Master Sgt. Cindy Rathbun who began losing hair in clumps within 3 weeks of arriving in Iraq. She is now enrolled in the first group of a new Women’s Trauma Recovery Program which is a 60 to 90 day program for female warriors.
Cindy is suffering from the stress and trauma of war, but also from sexual trauma from prior to her deployment by a military superior.
Some tidbits of information directly from the article cited:
More than 182,000 women have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the surrounding region — about 11% of U.S. troops deployed, the Pentagon says.
That dwarfs the 7,500 who served mostly as nurses in Vietnam and the nearly 41,000 women deployed during the brief Gulf War.
Although some of those women suffered PTSD, few saw actual fighting or were subjected to the stress of multiple deployments.
In Iraq, “there are no lines, so anybody that deploys is in a war zone,” Rathbun says. “Females are combat veterans as well as guys.”
To be sure, women are barred from ground jobs, technically assigned to support roles, but guess what? Those support roles include guarding checkpoints, driving supply convoys and searching women in neighborhood patrols. Dangerous duty just the same.
Attacks come from IED’s, mortars, and suicide attacks on checkpoints as well as from enemy fighters. The stress is there. The fear is there. The fatigue is there, the unknown is there, the worry about the home folks is there. Death and destruction are evident every day. More than 100 of our female warriors have died and almost 600 wounded.
More from the article cited:
The ranks of psychologically wounded from this war are far larger. In 2006, nearly 3,800 women diagnosed with PTSD were treated by the VA. They accounted for 14% of a total 27,000 recent veterans treated for PTSD last year.
In June, the Defense Department’s Mental Health Task Force reported that the number of women suffering from combat trauma might be higher than reported. It cited “a potential barrier” for women needing mental-health treatment as “their need to show the emotional strength expected of military members.”
The report also said that after leaving the military, “many women no longer see themselves as veterans” and might not associate psychological symptoms with their time in the war zone.
Did you notice that? Women represent 11% of the deployed but have 14% of the cases, even though the DoD thinks they are under reported. Battle lines or not, they are being affected at a much higher rate than men, some possibly due to MST, Military Sexual Trauma that was being diagnosed and treated as PTSD.
Here is a link to Oldtimer’s PTSD Videos which includes a video on MST.
It is about time that this problem is being addressed early in the process for our returning heroes. Our warriors are the best and deserve the best, black, white, male and female.
Wear the uniform, deserve the best.
Our programs should never be just about the men.
It should be about our heroes.