Military service has a lasting imprint on the minds, bodies, and families of United States veterans. Since 2001, over 1.6 million of our troops, active and reserve, were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Over a third of these troops served in these combat zones for more than one tour. Many veterans return home from their combat service abroad with a myriad of complex emotional issues:
• 40,000 veterans diagnosed with POST Traumatic Stress Disorder
• 300,000 veterans suffer from major depression
• 320,000 veterans have experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI)
• Army reports a 63% increase in divorces since 2001
• Record high suicide rate in 2009 (160)—increased 150% since 2001
• Substance abuse increased by 53% since 2003
• Domestic violence is on the rise
• At least 1 in 6 service-members are prescribed at least one psychiatric drug
• Defense Logistics Agency has spent $1.1 billion on common psychiatric and pain meds from 2001 – 2009 (76% increase)
• Anti-psychotic medications orders increased by 200%. Annual spending more than quadrupled from $4million to $16million
• Use of anti-anxiety drugs increased by 170%. Annual spending nearly tripled from $6million to $17million
• Anti-epileptic drugs (anticonvulsants) are the most common prescribed meds. Prescriptions increased by 70%. Spending up from $16million to $35 million
Service-members survive their war time service only to return home suffering its effects without the necessary tools for healing. Many suffer with symptoms of PTSD for decades. Yet, despite the effectiveness of alternative therapies, access to such services remains limited.
Some additional facts:
• 1 in 5 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with PTSD.
• Veterans now account for 20% of all U.S. suicides.