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News stories tagged with "mental-health"

Ft. Drum draws attention to soldier suicide

The United States Army is facing a particularly grim statistic. After a record number of soldiers killed themselves last year, the number of suicides is on pace to be even higher this year. According to the Associated Press, there are 62 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers and Guard and Reserve troops called to active duty in 2008. Another 31 deaths appear to be suicides but are still being investigated. Army Secretary Pete Geren told the AP, "Army leaders are fully aware that repeated deployments have led to increased distress and anxiety for both soldiers and their families." Friday morning at Fort Drum, officials are drawing attention to the danger of suicide with a memorial walk at 11 am. The public is invited to attend. David Sommerstein spoke with Ralph Marcellus, the coordinator of Fort Drum's suicide awareness and prevention campaign.  Go to full article

Workers call for more help at Sunmount

A group of nurses and other unionized workers rallied yesterday for more staff at Sunmount Developmental Center in Tupper Lake. The state-run facility is home to more than 200 residents with mental and physical disabilities. Nurses say a staff shortage is hurting patients and straining staff. Jacob Resneck reports.  Go to full article
A scene from "Virtual Iraq" (Source:  University of Southern California)
A scene from "Virtual Iraq" (Source: University of Southern California)

"Virtual Iraq" aims to help soldiers overcome Post Traumatic Stress

New Pentagon figures show 40,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder since 2003. But Army officials believe many more are keeping their illness secret. A study released last month by the Rand Corporation puts the number much higher. It found that 300,000 - one in five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan -- suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or major depression. Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker says officials are encouraging troops to get help, military or civilian. Fort Drum in Watertown has begun expanding its mental health programs. The VA is also scrambling to create new therapy methods to treat PTSD. In the May 19 issue of The New Yorker magazine, North Country writer Sue Halpern profiled one experimental new treatment called "Virtual Iraq."

Halpern told Brian Mann the story of one Marine named Travis Boyd who used the "virtual reality" computer simulation to heal from his wartime experience.  Go to full article

Advocates want coverage for PTSD

Mental health advocates are asking New York's legislature to expand unlimited mental health coverage for people with post traumatic stress disorder, including returning war veterans and victims of domestic violence. Karen DeWitt reports from Albany.  Go to full article

More soldier DWIs at Fort Drum

Late Friday night, a 23 year-old Fort Drum soldier injured seven pedestrians when he plowed into a crowd leaving a music club in Watertown. Kristopher Hendricks hit a parked car, then drove the wrong way down a one-way street. He was charged with drunk driving. Watertown police say all the people Hendricks hit are fellow soldiers. All but one has been released from the hospital. The incident came a week after Fort Drum's weekly newspaper began publishing the names and photos of soldiers arrested for DWI. The policy has touched off a debate over the best way to handle the misdeeds of combat veterans who have recently returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

10th Mtn. soldier seeks mistreatment probe

A 10th Mountain Division soldier planned to turn himself in Friday after he went AWOL to avoid deployment to Iraq. But according to the Watertown Daily Times, 21 year-old Specialist Brian Currie became agitated as he approached Fort Drum and decided he couldn't go through with it. Currie says a military doctor ruled him unfit for deployment from injuries sustained in Afghanistan. He and 4 other soldiers are requesting a military court of inquiry investigate allegations of harassment and mistreatment. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Drum Headquarters trains for Iraq

Fort Drum's main headquarters is getting ready to take control of the south-central area of Iraq. Major General Michael Oates, the base's commander, will lead more than a thousand troops to Iraq in May. While they're there, three other 10th Mountain Division brigades will be preparing to deploy this fall. Yesterday, General Oates gave some members of the media a tour of a training war room that's a replica of the real thing in Iraq. David Sommerstein was there and has this report.  Go to full article

Commentary: school shootings - pulling back from the brink

Last week brought more tragic school shooting attacks, culminating at Northern Illinois University. A gunman entered a class there Thursday, killing six students and wounding 18 others before taking his own life. The man was a former student. Commentator Paul Hetzler remembers scraping very close to that edge of violence himself, and offers one answer to the question: why? -- and its flipside: why not?  Go to full article

Vet group faults Drum mental health services

A veterans group says the Army is still failing to provide 10th Mountain Division soldiers with adequate mental health services at Fort Drum more than six years after the start of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report, titled "Fort Drum: A Great Burden, Inadequate Assistance." is from the Washington, D.C.-based Veterans for America. It cites under-staffing, reliance on questionnaires to identify soldiers who need treatment, and leadership's indifference to soldiers' claims of post traumatic stress disorder. The report also said repeated, lengthy and unpredictable deployments have taken a toll on all the Army's divisions, but most especially Ft. Drum's 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams. The report says some soldiers wait up to two months before a first appointment. It concludes that care for returning soldiers at Fort Drum is woefully inadequate.

Veterans for America, formerly known as Vietnam Veterans of America, was founded by former Marine Bobby Muller. According to Sen. Hillary Clinton, the group based the report on interviews with a dozen Fort Drum soldiers and mental health providers. Clinton said the problem must be addressed urgently. In a statement, she said she's looking forward to "the cooperation and support of the Army in this process." Army officials at Ft. Drum had no immediate comment on the report.  Go to full article

Drum benefits: "somebody needs to get story straight"

A day after National Public Radio reported that Fort Drum soldiers were being denied help filling out their disability paperwork, the Army is sending mixed messages. The Department of Veterans Affairs isn't talking. And Congressman John McHugh is still trying to figure out what happened. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

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