Physical and Mental Effect of War on Soldiers

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					Danielle Harris         Physical & Mental Health Effects of War On Soldiers            19-Apr-11

        Millions of soldiers are exposed to combat around the world and are faced with

developing health issues from their traumatic experiences (Pizzarro). Studies have shown

that war causes more mortality and disabilities than any other disease (Murthy). There are

many health effects that can be developed such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD),

anger problems, depression, alcohol abuse, heavy smoking habits, etc.(Tull). There was a

study done on 6,201 soldiers in Iraq from four different groups including; an Army unit

before leaving to go to Iraq, after serving duty in Afghanistan for six months and after

serving eight months in Iraq; and Marine battalions after serving six months in Iraq. The

soldiers were all asked to complete surveys about their health, to see if they made use of

the mental health services, and their combat experiences. There was reported to be 16 to

17 percent of soldiers reported to have been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, or anxiety

(1 in 8 Returning Soldiers).

        There are many things that we can blame these illnesses developing in soldiers on

such as; seeing a close friend get killed, being shot at, being attacked/ambushed, or seeing

dead bodies (Mental Health Effects). There are also chemicals in the air that can affect the

body in the long term. The burn pit in Iraq known as Balad which is the largest U.S. base

exposes troops to harmful chemicals that can cause cancer. These chemicals include

arsenic, carbon monoxide, and dangerous medical wastes. This pit takes in about 147 tons

of waste each day, and around this pit is the home to around 25,000 troops. Things such as

amputated limbs; HIV, syphilis, malaria, etc. from needles are tossed into this burn pit
Danielle Harris          Physical & Mental Health Effects of War On Soldiers          19-Apr-11

(Kennedy). Imagine how harmful it is to breathe in the smoke each day produced from these


         During the Vietnam War there was a toxic herbicide called Agent Orange that was

sprayed down on the trees and vegetation. This herbicide covered around 3.6 million acres

of land. There were around 2.4 million soldiers that served in this war. These soldiers and

their families were open to developing health issues because of this herbicide. Agent

Orange contains dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Agent

Orange has been linked to causing cancer, diabetes, and severe skin diseases. Also it

dosen’t stop with the soldiers, their children can develop spinal bifida. Spinal bifida causes

the baby to be born with their spinal cord not properly closed (Agent Orange).

         Yes, war does indeed strengthen our economy, but it also affects our soldiers. War

provides us with more jobs, but it also causes destruction and death. War kills innocent

people and promotes hatred. War causes soldiers to suffer with long-term health problems.

I believe that in order for our soldiers to have lesser health problems, they would have to

be given a lesser time spent over in war. An interesting fact I saw was that over 300,000

soldiers have served their duty in Iraq over 3 times (11 Facts About). Imagine the health

problems these soldiers are dealing with.

         Soldiers not only suffer with health problems, but these problems could cause

family issues also. Some families have to actually go through the counseling to deal with

the problems. Families tend to deal with being stressed from worrying about a close family

member at war and it will eventually take a toll on the family. Sometimes soldier’s

deployment time away from family could cause marriage issues, and could even cause the
Danielle Harris         Physical & Mental Health Effects of War On Soldiers            19-Apr-11

soldier to go crazy. Parents Joyce and Kevin had a son that was deployed to Iraq in 2004,

and he suffered from anxiety, hallucinations, and depression. He soon committed suicide

because he couldn’t take it. Now this family had to go through counseling sessions to try

and get their life back together. The suicide rate in soldiers in the year 2006 hit a 26 year

high. This proved that it is a correlation between the time spent in Iraq and the suicide

rates (Huus).

        As we see war can have a lot of affect on our health. It can cause us to go insane

even. Soldiers shouldn’t have to spend so much time at war and away from their families.

The stress level in soldiers in war tends to be very high; because there is so much that they

have to worry about. They worry about their families, whether they will live to see the next

day, whether their deployment time will be increased, etc. The only solution that I see to

this is allowing soldiers to not have to stay over six months in war. Another solution is to

allow soldiers that are going through problems, under a lot of stress, or having health

issues to be able to leave out of war. The question I was thinking about was, “Does War

Solve Anything?”. War does nothing but cause mental and physical scares on our soldiers,

which can last a lifetime. I feel like there are other options that we can look to, instead of

war, but in today’s society there is no such thing as talking things through. I also think if

that’s the only thing that we can lean on to do, then it has to be done. As many soldiers it is,

they shouldn’t have to spend a year in war though.

        Some interesting facts that I found out were that in 2010 around 86 soldiers that

were not on active duty committed suicide and the suicide rate in soldiers doubled. The

number of soldiers that suffer from PTSD in “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” has risen up to
Danielle Harris         Physical & Mental Health Effects of War On Soldiers           19-Apr-11

18.2%. Out of the many soldiers that suffer some sort of health problem, only half of them

seek treatment for it. One out of five active duty soldiers serving in the war in Iraq and

Afghanistan suffer from PTSD(11 Facts About).

        There are steps that have been taken by the military to help soldiers cope with the

health problems that they are dealing with. There are combat stress teams that are formed

to help soldiers cope with stress that could be caused by being lonely, discomfort while in

service, extended deployment, boredom, from disasters that may have happened, etc..

There are also Veteran’s Affair hospitals that are all over the United States that provide

treatment, diagnose, and care for veterans (Combat Stress). In the end it all boils down to

soldiers shouldn’t have to spend so much time in war. The military of course knows the

risks they impose on these soldiers, but yet they do nothing. They raise deployment

periods and cause more stress on these soldiers and allow health issues to build up upon

these soldiers. When changes are made, which can be done, the world will be a better place.
Danielle Harris          Physical & Mental Health Effects of War On Soldiers               19-Apr-11

                                           Works Cited

"1 in 8 Returning Soldiers Suffers from PTSD - Health - Mental Health -" -
        Breaking News, Science and Tech News, World News, US News, Local News- Web.
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"11 Facts About the Mental Health of Our Troops | Do Something." Volunteer | Do Something. Web.
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"After the War Is over ... PTSD Symptoms in World War II Veterans." Massey University, New
        Zealand's Defining University - Massey University. 07 Apr. 2008. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.

 "Agent Orange Guide: Health Effects, Agent Orange Claims." Attorneys Brayton Purcell | Novato (San
       Francisco), California Attorney. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

"Combat Stress Control." Army Medicine. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.

Huus, Kari. "Gut Check: Iraq War’ Impact at Home - US News - Gut Check -" - Breaking News, Science and Tech News, World News, US News, Local News- 15 Oct. 2007. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

Kennedy, Kelly. "Burn Pit at Balad Raises Health Concerns - Army News | News from Afghanistan &
      Iraq - Army Times." Army News, Benefits, Careers, Entertainment, Photos, Promotions - Army
      Times HOME. 27 Oct. 2008. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

“Mental Health Effects of Serving in Afghanistan and Iraq - National Center for PTSD.” National
       Center for PTSD Home. 01 Jan. 2007. Web. 11 Apr. 2011.

Murthy, Srinivasa. "Mental Health Consequences of War: a Brief Review of Research Findings."
      Http:// 5 Feb. 2006. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.

Pizzarro, Judith, Roxane Silver, and JoAnne Prause. "Physical and Mental Health Costs of Traumatic
       War Experiences Among Civil War Veterans."
       Http:// 08 Feb. 2006. Web.
       19 Apr. 2011.
Danielle Harris         Physical & Mental Health Effects of War On Soldiers             19-Apr-11

“Tull, Matthew. “Health of Veterans - Health of Veterans and PTSD.” PTSD - PTSD Symptoms,
        Diagnosis and Treatment. 06 Nov. 2008. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.

Zoroya, Gregg. "US Military 'Overwhelmed' by Mental Health Problems of Soldiers | Common
       Dreams." Home | Common Dreams. 23 Aug. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.

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