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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The lesser known risk to OEF and OIF veterans is when they crash

This is one of the reasons why we will never know the true price of war and what the lack of care does.
Motor vehicle crashes: A little-known risk to returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
Washington Post
By David Brown
Published: May 5
Andy Manis/For The Washington Post
Steven Acheson, an Iraq War veteran, at his apartment in Platteville, Wis., May 3, 2013.
For men and women who have fought in the country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, death behind the wheel is becoming another lethal aftereffect of combat.

After they leave military service, veterans of the two wars have a 75 percent higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than do civilians. Troops still in uniform have a higher risk of crashing their cars in the months immediately after returning from deployment than in the months immediately before. People who have had multiple tours in combat zones are at highest risk for traffic accidents.

The phenomenon has been revealed by various pieces of evidence — research as well as observations of service members, veterans and counselors.

The most common explanation is that troops bring back driving habits that were lifesaving in war zones but are dangerous on America’s roads. They include racing through intersections, straddling lanes, swerving on bridges and, for some, not wearing seat belts because they hinder a rapid escape.

That’s probably not the whole story, however. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suffered by thousands of veterans, increases aggressive driving. Drunken driving and thrill-seeking also are more common after combat, according to a few studies and the testimony of many veterans.
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