Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

National Public Radio reports that twenty-five percent of the soldiers returning from war in the Middle East are suffering from mental health problems, including posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Only forty percent are seeking treatment. No breakdown by age, race, socioeconomic status was given.

One marker that may indicate how Indigenous soldiers are faring in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars comes from the Matsunaga Project which assessed the readjustment experiences of American Indian, Japanese American, and Native Hawaiian veterans of the Vietnam War. This particular study found that Native Hawaiian and American Indian Vietnam in-country veterans had relatively high levels of exposure to war zone stress and high levels of PTSD. About one in three American Indian Vietnam veterans who served in-country suffered from full or partial PTSD at the time of the study, a quarter century or more after the war. More than two in three American Indian Vietnam veterans suffered from full or partial PTSD sometime since Vietnam. PTSD prevalence for American Indians is very high, more than twice as high as for White or Japanese American Vietnam veteran's.


MariJo Moore said...

Thanks so much for enlightening us to the reality of how many suffer from PTSD.
MariJo Moore

Cankpe Opi said...

As indigenous people we sit silent as the youth leave for foreign lands to fight for only what the pentagon and white house know and upon the return of the youth we are saddled with caring for the mental and physical problems and the societal issues that arise from having PTSD and physical ailments alike. Yet when war is apposed on a reservation, the group or person(s) doing the opposing are considered untraditional and acting against the "warrior" culture. We are a sick people and being closed mouthed about the issues is not going to help.

T Carter said...

I am not surprised that such a high percentage of indigenous soldiers suffer from PTSD in comparison to other ethnicities. I believe a unique indigenous value system, including collective shame, personal responsibility/accountability, and a strong sense of community and compassion impact the development and severity of this disorder. As a result, when Native American men and women return from the ruins of war, they most likely find it extremely difficult to suppress or cope with the violent and bloody reality of war that they experienced, thus resulting in PTSD.

Sadly, the U.S. government/military often neglects, limits or completely denies treatment for PTSD. While recruiters aggressively prowl the reservations and poor urban communities for potential soldiers, they put forth little effort into rehabilitation when the soldiers return…if they return.

T Carter
Historian, Researcher,
Activist for Social Justice & Action