Combat's Hidden Toll: 1 in 10 Soldiers Report Mental Health Problems

"You go back to the community and don't see your fellow soldiers for 30 days, and then you only see them twice a month," he said.

The study also found that of the soldiers who had PTSD or depression, about half of them reported problems with alcohol or aggressive behaviors.

This increased between 3 months and 12 months after deployment among National Guard soldiers, but stayed about the same among full-time, active duty veterans.

Hutchison also had problems with alcohol after he came back his tour of duty in Iraq.

"I came back home and drank a lot. I was sitting on my couch with a pistol in my mouth," he said.

Soldiers Are a "Band of Brothers" on Duty

Hutchison and Rhodes said soldiers on active duty get at least some comfort from their comrades.

"They can see a combat stress counselor and at the same time, they've got their buddies. They've got their own counseling," Rhodes said.

"It was a 'Band of Brothers' environment. We didn't really talk to each other about it, but we could look into each others' eyes and see we were going through the same thing," said Hutchison.

It's that support that's vital to helping soldiers understand and manage their PTSD and other mental health problems.

"The first step is to admit you have PTSD," Hutchison said.

"A lot of soldiers are in denial because they're scared and they want to have a career, and if you have a weakness, they think the Army is going to get rid of you," said Rhodes.

The results of the current study as well as past research suggest that there's definitely a need for treatment. Left untreated, PTSD and other mental health problems can have disastrous consequences.

Data from the U.S. Marine Corps show that through the month of May, 89 Marines tried to kill themselves.

"Untreated depression or PTSD can cause you to spiral downward," said Mary Hibbard, professor of rehabilitation medicine at The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

"They become more withdrawn and detached and have an increased inability to hold down any job and an increased use of substances as an attempt to cope," Hibbard added.

Army Working to Address the Issues

In response to the growing body of research, the Army says it is "continually advancing its understanding of the scope of the complexities of PTSD/TBI [traumatic brain injury] to improve soldier care," according to its website.

Among the new initiatives is Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, a program designed to help soldiers become more resilient to the mental and physical stresses of combat.

The Army has also implemented a "Battlemind Training" program to help soldiers deal with stress.

"It's a resilience training package that's been shown to reduce PTSD symptoms," said Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, the co-author of the current study.

Colonel Dave Romine, a physician and the Army National Guard's chief surgeon, said there are resources available for post-deployment National Guard soldiers who need help.

"Every state has a director of psychological health," he said. "They provide full-time assessment and referral as well as crisis intervention, and in the past two months, we've assessed more than 2,700 soldiers and their families and have been able to triage them to the proper level of care."

CSM Rhodes lauds the Army's efforts to confront this growing problem.

"They're doing a lot more now. They've got all these studies going on. The Army's really going after it," he said.

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