Soldiers, Veterans, PTSD and Antipsychotic Drugs
Philly.com, May 14, 2012
The nation has a huge challenge and obligation regarding the soldiers and airmen, Marines and sailors, who are lucky enough to come home alive from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Battlefield medics and medicine, in-country surgeons and speedy airlift to hospitals in Germany and then the United States all contribute to service members surviving physical wounds that would have meant death in previous wars.
However, the psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can also be severe and are often not as identifiable as a broken bone.
“As the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to anticipate the needs of returning Veterans,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in April.
“History shows that the costs of war will continue to grow for a decade or more after the operational missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended. As more veterans return home, we must ensure that all veterans have access to quality mental health care.”
Shinseki’s comments came as the VA announced it was hiring about 1900 psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and support staff to help in the existing mental health staff of 20,590.
How pharmaceuticals – specifically, antipsychotic drugs – fit into treatment are part of the discussion.
In the last few weeks, the Pentagon has started to tighten the limits on antipsychotics use.
On Feb. 22, Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. Jonathan Woodson sent a memo on PTSD to all branches of the military, expressing that “the greatest concern is the suspicion of the over-prescription of antipsychotic medications for PTSD.”
Sunday’s Inquirer story on the topic is here.
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