Military Psychiatric Screening Lags

In the Hartford Courant, Matthew Kauffman and Lisa Chedekel report that, despite the Pentagon’s promises to the contrary, the military continues to refer a far smaller proportion of troops to mental-health professionals than actually have mental-health problems. Less than 1 percent of deploying troops are currently referred, even though several military studies show that nearly 10 percent have mental-health problems.

The Courant won awards for its 2006 coverage of mentally unfit soldiers. Later that year, the Pentagon claimed it would improve this screening process, but an infographic accompanying this week's story reveals that the subsequent increase in referrals was only temporary.

Kauffman and Chedekel's story comes on the heels of the first hearing of a class-action lawsuit against the VA filed by two veterans’ groups, demanding improved screening and treatment of potentially suicidal veterans. As of the end of 2005, 144 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide, the AP's Bradley Brooks reports. During the hearing, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder expert Dr. Arthur Blank testified that up to 30% of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from PTSD, a statistic which headlined John Koopman's coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle.