Owing to the war in Iraq the number of veterans receiving compensation for PTSD has increased by almost 80 percent in the last five years. By comparison, the number of veterans receiving compensation for all other types of disabilities only increased by 12 percent. Under the guidelines of the current review, soldiers who cannot prove that a specific incident, known as a stressor, was sufficient to cause PTSD, their benefits will be revoked. Given the nature of warfare in Iraq its not surprising that many returning soldiers are suffering from mental illness.
In the July 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine Colonel Charles W. Hoge, M.D., the chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Institute, published a preliminary study of the effects of the war in Iraq on military personnel. The study concluded that almost 20 percent of soldiers who served in Iraq returned home suffering from PTSD. The study found that there is a clear correlation between combat experience and PTSD. The study concluded that, Rates of PTSD were significantly higher after combat duty in Iraq.
Approximately 86 percent of the soldiers in the study were involved in combat in Iraq. On average, soldiers engaged in two firefights for each tour of duty. And 56 percent of soldiers had killed an enemy combatant. An estimated 28 percent were directly responsible for the death of a civilian. Additionally, 68 percent witnessed fellow soldiers being killed or seriously wounded.
The lack of pre-war intelligence also contributed to a rise in PTSD claims. Studies of the Vietnam War have indicated that when soldiers cant anticipate the nature and intensity of warfare that they ultimately encounter they are psychologically unprepared, leading to PTSD in many instances. During the early phase of the war in Iraq, many soldiers were unprepared for what they encountered.
The Bush administration initially indicated that the war would be quick and easy. Vice President Cheney, only a few days after the invasion of Iraq, infamously stated that soldiers will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. Ahmed Chalabi, a close advisor to the Bush administration prior to and immediately following the invasion said, American troops will be greeted with flowers and candy by the Iraqi people, and the administration repeated this many times. President Bush flew onto a U.S. aircraft carrier in May 2003 and, while standing beneath a banner proclaiming Mission Accomplished, announced that major combat operations had ended.