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“Combat Experiences” Cause the Most Mental Health Problems

New study defies common wisdom that multiple deployments are top culprit. 

A new report from the U.S. Army dramatically confirms what so many American service members and Veterans already know: the more combat events they experience, the more mental health problems they are likely to suffer.

The report also concludes that the number of combat experiences is a greater influence than multiple deployments.

Mental Health & Combat Experiences

According to the report, which TIME magazine covered in Mark Thompson’s Swampland blog, there’s a direct relationship between combat exposure and mental health issues.

“As would be expected, there is a dose-dependent relationship between levels of combat experiences and well-being indices,” the ninth Mental Health Advisory Team report says. “This relationship is clearly demonstrated for the percentage of Soldiers meeting screening criteria for any psychological problem.”

Many troops and veterans have said that they believe the epidemic of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the post-9/11 wars is largely a result of the fact that so many of our troops in were sent out on multiple deployments in unprecedented fashion.

But the Army study shows that it is combat events, more than the length or number of deployments, that most influences  mental-health problems.

The study shows that while troops may withstand several of what the Army calls “combat experiences,” they start to exhibit mental problems after 10 or more such events, which include being near an exploding improvised explosive device (IED), shooting at the enemy, killing the enemy, and having a member of your unit die.

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