At Pristine Mental Health, veterans and active military personnel are treated with the utmost respect and honor for their sacrifices. We want to provide them with crucial mental health resources that can alleviate mental health challenges. The proverbial #22aday continues to trend on social media.
Recent research found that 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who served in the military after 9/11 have died by suicide – compared to the 7,057 service members killed in combat in those same 20 years. At Pristine Mental Health, we want to help stop this trend by making mental health treatments accessible and known. For this reason, we recently opened a TMS Therapy satellite clinic in Lacey near Hawks Prairie to better serve the military community at JBLM.
What are the mental health implications of combat exposure and deployment?
According to the Journal of Military and Veterans Health, eighteen studies demonstrated increased post-deployment PTSD and depression. Individuals with the lowest functional scores and those exposed to previous traumatic assault were particularly vulnerable to new onset of PTSD after combat exposure. Factors influencing the incidence of post-deployment PTSD included depression symptoms present during deployment, stress reaction during combat exposure and reception of associated frontline treatment, and the number of adverse life events experienced after the traumatic event.
The research reported more mental health problems in soldiers returning from Iraq on the second screening conducted several months after their return compared with the first screening immediately upon their return. Some mental health symptoms (anxiety and depression) improved between deployments, while others (PTSD and panic attacks) did not improve.
The results indicate that combat exposure, not deployment in general, had an adverse effect on mental health. Mental health indicators in deployed personnel not exposed to combat were often better than those in non-deployed personnel. Health outcomes and health needs were affected by individual characteristics and post-deployment life events, which changed over time.
According to Military.com, families face a number of challenges before, during, and after deployment. This emotional cycle of deployment begins when news of deployment is released to the family. It starts with a short period of strong emotions, such as fear and anger. As departure grows closer, a period of detachment and withdrawal may occur. This can happen to prepare for the person being physically gone.
According to the American Homefront Project, military teenagers and their families know that frequent moves across the country and around the world are difficult. The constant relocations can cause feelings of anxiety, isolation, and depression, especially among middle and high-school-age military dependents. A study was conducted to identify how distressing military life could be and the survey showed that 42% of respondents reported low mental well-being and 45% reported moderate mental well-being.
Suicide rates among active-duty military members are at an all-time high since record-keeping began after 9/11 and have been increasing over the past five years at an alarmingly steady pace. In 2021, the research found that 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who served in the military after 9/11 have died by suicide – compared to the 7,057 service members killed in combat in those same 20 years. Military suicide rates are four times higher than deaths that occurred during military operations. This trend is exceptionally troubling for military families and parents, whose active-duty loved ones already sacrifice so much to protect our freedom.
Several causes can lead a person to commit suicide, but there’s an additional layer of potential stressors on top of life’s regular ups and downs that put them at risk for active-duty service members.
In light of this unfortunate trend, several USO centers have developed special programming in line with the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) strategies to prevent suicide to support service members in need.