Mental, Not Physical, Illness Hospitalizes Most US Troops

As mental illness increases, cost of care skyrockets
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2010 2:35 PM CDT
Mental, Not Physical, Illness Hospitalizes Most US Troops
Jesus Bocanegra, 24, walks in uniform to a Memorial Day weekend service May 27, 2006 in Benavides, Texas. Bocanegra has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.   (Getty Images)

For the first time on record, more US troops were hospitalized for mental illness last year than for any other reason, according to new data from the Pentagon. The year saw 17,538 mental health hospitalizations, which narrowly topped childbirth (17,354) and far outstripped injuries or battle wounds (11,156). “War is difficult,” the Army's surgeon general tells USA Today. “It takes a toll.”

Complicating matters is the fact that mental ailments don't present as quickly as physical conditions. "Mental disorders are a trailing indicator of health issues to a prolonged period of war fighting, and these figures reflect that," says one official. Another explains: "Our troops are facing multiple deployments and experiencing psychological stress due to prolonged exposure to combat."
(More US military stories.)

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