Long Combat Tours Take Mental Toll

Brit Study: Alcoholism, post traumatic stress soar after 13 months
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2007 5:48 AM CDT
A British soldier sits with his machine-gun near Habibollah Kalay village in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Tuesday, May 1, 2007. Thousands of British, Afghan, U.S. and other NATO troops clashed with...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Soldiers who serve extended tours in combat zones have much higher rates of alcoholism, post traumatic stress syndrome and problems at home, a large British study has found. Of those in war zones for more than 13 months over three years, one in four had "severe" alcohol problems, compared to one in 10 who served shorter deployments.

Not knowing when they'd be allowed to go home also contributed significantly to troops' mental stress, the Guardian reports. A government spokesman said only a small percentage of British troops are deployed longer than 13 months and that soldiers can take advantage of "mental health nurses" in war zones. (Read more Iraq stories.)