WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a move to put a positive spin on the woeful health benefits extended to reservists returning from active duty, the military has announced it is extending free health care from six months to one year—unless you re-enlist, in which case coverage extends for eight years.
A lot of good that will do the thousands of vets with long-term mental illness.
David H. Hackworth, the combat veteran author, writes, “What’s needling my brain is that in some additional army studies where participating soldiers were assured total confidentiality—a must in today’s zero-defect army, where soldiers who publicly admit they’re depressed or having nightmares or temper tantrums should plan to kiss future promotions goodbye and expect their walking papers at the end of their hitch—the number of Iraq veterans copping to post-combat mental problems has more than tripled from an average of 4 percent to 5 percent to a scary 17 percent.”
He adds: “That high a percentage is a shocker, and the trend that seems to be developing really blows me out. If 17 out of every 100 returning vets are mentally down, our army is in serious trouble—there’s no way any unit can sustain so staggering a loss.”
Additional research: David Botti
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 22, 2005