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

(Newser) – 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."

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.
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)
Dr. Robert Barnes, associate director of mental health services of the Puget Sound Veterans Administration, left, gives a tour to Sen. Patty Murray in this file photo.
Dr. Robert Barnes, associate director of mental health services of the Puget Sound Veterans Administration, left, gives a tour to Sen. Patty Murray in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Drew Perine, pool)
Dr. Robert Barnes, associate director of mental health services of the Puget Sound Veterans Administration, describes problems with patient rooms at the VA Medical Center, June 15, 2007, in Seattle.
Dr. Robert Barnes, associate director of mental health services of the Puget Sound Veterans Administration, describes problems with patient rooms at the VA Medical Center, June 15, 2007, in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Drew Perine, pool)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
My TakeCLICK BELOW TO VOTE
7%
7%
2%
63%
7%
12%
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   MSN Living   |   PopSugar Tech   |   RealClear   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   Biography   |   Barstool Sports   |   OK!