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Wounded Times

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Where have all the real reporters have gone to?

Where have all the real reporters have gone to?
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
March 14, 2013

I was just reading re-reading Report details flaws in Army's handling of PTSD, other behavioral health issues Article by: GENE JOHNSON Associated Press and scratching my head. The more I read this, the more I wonder how much else reporters with AP got wrong over all these years. Where do they get these numbers from?

SEATTLE - An Army report released Friday finds the service still has trouble diagnosing and treating soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, despite more than doubling its number of military and civilian behavioral health workers over the past five years.

Confusing paperwork, inconsistent training and guidelines, and incompatible data systems have hindered the service as it tries to deal with behavioral health issues, the report said. It's a crucial issue: After a decade of war, soldier suicides outpace combat deaths.

Last May, the Army commissioned a task force to conduct a sweeping review of how it evaluates soldiers for mental health problems at all its facilities. The review came under pressure from Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, of Washington, who was upset to learn that hundreds of soldiers at Madigan Army Medical Center south of Seattle had had their PTSD diagnoses reversed by a forensic psychiatry team, resulting in a potential cut to their benefits and questions about whether the changes were made to save money.

Since September 2001, the report found, 4.1 percent of all soldiers deployed wound up in the disability system with a behavioral health diagnosis such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury.

Nationwide, the report said, 6,400 soldiers had behavioral health diagnoses "adjusted" by medical evaluation boards, with approximately equal numbers having PTSD added as a diagnosis and removed as a diagnosis.
This came from Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
"Of the soldiers who experienced any potentially traumatic combat exposures, only 31.6% developed the PTSD syndrome. When the researchers limited their analysis to the soldiers who experienced the most severe traumatic exposures, there was still a substantial proportion -- about 30% -- that did not develop the syndrome. This suggests that there were other factors and vulnerabilities involved for the minority of exposed who did end up developing the PTSD syndrome."


"Veterans Affairs officials have seen a steady rise in the number of veterans seeking mental health care in recent years, from about 927,000 cases in fiscal 2006 to more than 1.3 million in fiscal 2012."

If 43% of did not seek help, that means 57% committed suicide after seeking help. Does Senator Donnelly understand what that means?
"U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly says he wants greater focus on preventing suicide among active-duty military servicemembers and veterans. That includes increasing outreach to vets.

Last year, more combat troops took their own life than died in combat in Afghanistan. And Senator Joe Donnelly says 43 percent of service members who committed suicide never sought help. He says trying to combat the problem of military and veteran suicide needs to involve erasing the stigma of seeking help.

“They feel like, ‘Well, I don’t want to burden somebody’ or ‘I don’t want anybody to have to worry about me’ or ‘I don’t want anybody to have to spend an extra thought on me,’ he says."
But AP got this part wrong too.
Last year the Army — and the military as a whole — suffered the highest number of suicides ever recorded, prompting then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to declare it an epidemic. The Army had 183 suicides among active-duty soldiers, up from 167 in 2011, and the military as a whole had 350 suicides, up from 301 the year before.
So here we go again. The following has been released by the DOD and Marine Corps Times.
Army 182
Army National Guards 96
Army Reserves 47
Marines 48
Air Force 59
Navy 60
A report from San Antonio supports this.

If Sig Christenson got it right in January, how did the rest of the reporters get it wrong afterwards?
Military suicides set new record
By Sig Christenson
Updated 11:35 pm, Monday, January 14, 2013

The military's chronic problem with suicides set a sobering record last year, with at least 493 suicides across the services, a rate of one death every 18 hours.

And the record, more than double the number of suicides in the first year of the Iraq war, is sure to rise further when the Army provides its final statistics this month.

The wife of a Marine Corps aviator who killed himself after returning from Iraq said Monday that as hard as war has been, peace might be worse.

GIs long stressed by deployments are coming home to a shrinking military and a slow economy, and they might be wrestling with financial and relationship woes as well as wounds that include traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Yet there is another problem this leads to. If these were the numbers found before the release by the Army, then what are the real numbers?

When the media screws up reporting something this serious, we have to wonder what else they are getting wrong. There is a list of other sources repeating the wrong suicide numbers. The thing that jumped out at me the most was what was missing even from what they did report.

Where is the data from the Army? It cannot be found in their casualty releases on their site. Where are the reports mentioned in the Marine Corps Times on the other branches? How can these releases be verified? Where is the data for Air National Guards? Marine Corps Reservists? Does anyone really know how many committed suicide? How many attempted it?

I would like to believe we are close to knowing the truth but I would also like to believe I'm still 25 instead of 53. The truth is, we will never know exactly how many.

Overdoses are always a matter of opinion based on what is available to the coroner. Was it accidental or suicide? Car and motorcycle accidents are also opinion based when there is no clear cause. Drowning deaths, again, up to opinion. We can live with those unknowns but when the military is hiding the data and the reporters are not even asking the right questions, we will never even be close to knowing what the truth is. We will be even further away from knowing how to help and ending what does not work and families will stand by listening to taps being played while someone they love are put into their graves.

I read reports everyday and usually end my day wondering where have all the real reporters have gone to. Why aren't they asking the right questions? Why aren't they asking for proof of what they are being told? Why aren't they asking who is being held accountable? What are the lessons learned and why haven't they been implemented? Above all, what kind of message does this send to the men and women serving this country?

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