Vets Slipping Into the Bottle

Military blames troubled vets turning to booze for rise in misconduct
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2008 5:36 AM CDT
US Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, smoke as they take rest at forward operating base near the town of Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan Sunday, July 6, 2008.    (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
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(Newser) – A rise in alcohol abuse among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is worrying military officials, the New York Times reports. Counseling services for vets suffering post-traumatic stress disorder are stretched to the limit and many tormented former soldiers are turning instead to the bottle. The increase in binge drinking, and a smaller rise in illegal drug use, is blamed for a rise in crimes and other misconduct involving veterans.

The military is working to discourage alcohol abuse and to persuade vets to seek help, but it's struggling to overcome the traditional image of the hard-drinking fighting man. "The problem in today’s military is soldiers have to be warriors, killers, but we don’t allow them any releases like we used to,” said one vet. "You can’t go out and drink, you can’t get into a fight. It’s completely unrealistic.”