LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - This past week the military announced a sweeping review of how the service evaluates soldiers with possible post traumatic stress disorder.
Retired Army Colonel Mike Ross of the 39th infantry provided some insight into what issues servicemen and women are dealing with when they return from war. Ross says he remembers when his brigade was called to combat.
Ross says, "In October 2003 the 39th Infantry Brigade was called to combat. We went to Iraq, got over there in the middle of March 2004 after an extensive train-up. April the 7th we lost our very first soldier, April the 9th we lost our second soldier and April the 24th we lost 4 more soldiers. April the 25th we lost another one. I can tell you every date that we lost a soldier."
The infantry lost 36 soldiers during their tour, 16 of them from Arkansas. They returned home in April 2005. Former commander of the 39th Colonel Mike Ross says within months problems began surfacing with soldiers and their families. He says five of them committed suicide. Ross says, "PTSD is real out there and it causes people to do things, the suicide rate in the Army is the highest its ever been."
Ross says he hopes this recent review will lead to different treatment programs. He says, "We've got some great programs after a person hits rock bottom. Won't we don't have are wellness programs, the preventative programs. Not only a preventative program for the veteran, but for his family members, because this is a team."
Ross is concerned that there may be a disconnect between those who have been to war and the ones overseeing PTSD programs. He adds, "You can throw money at it, you can throw pills at it all day long, but it's more than that."
The Army says it will review the diagnoses at all of its medical facilities dating back to October 2001.
The military launched a review of mental health cases after the Army learned several post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses at a base near Seattle were wrongfully reduced to a lesser illness during medical retirement evaluations.