Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

JWV Welcomes Reports of Treatment of Tomorrows Veterans

Spring 2007

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) welcomes recent reports on the mental health of the veterans of today's conflicts put out by the U.S. Army's Medical Department's Mental Health Advisory Team and by the National Academy of Science's National Research Council. Both reports are important contributions to our knowledge of the extent and need for treatment of PTSD for those soldiers coming back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many requests for such investigations have been called for since Viet Nam. They were sidelined. The Army report illustrates the recognizable stress under which our troops are now operating in a war with no battle lines, where an enemy attack could come from any direction at any time of the day, while serving multiple extended deployments with too little time between them. According to this report, soldiers should have at least 18 to 36 months between deployments to recover from the stress of the battlefield, but most only get 12 months at present and are facing deployments recently increased from 12 to 15 months. The National Academy of Sciences report, which had been requested by the VA, stresses that the rising number of those returning with PTSD requires the development of better tests to evaluate them and determine how best to treat and compensate them. According to the report, the VA "uses only crude criteria for rating disabilities due to mental illness and is not consistent for relapsing conditions." The criteria must be redefined and be applicable to both VA and DoD. If recognized in service and in DoD, reporting time delay and time treatment can be reduced by recognizing the Veteran as a whole rather than limited by specific injuries. These two reports, together with the recent recommendations of the Task Force on Returning Global War on Terror Heroes, chaired by VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, form the basis of an important body of literature aimed at helping the special problems faced by our newest veterans. All of the reports in the world, however, are worth nothing if they are allowed, as were prior reports, to languish and their recommendations and observations are not translated into real action to help our returning war heroes. The JWV is grateful for the recent concern shown for the health and welfare of our veterans by the commissioning of these reports. Now it is time to act to give our soldiers the care they deserve and have earned. The time for study is past. The time for action is now.

 

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