Saturday, November 8, 2008

US general bucks military silence on mental health

It takes a brave soldier to do what Army Maj. Gen. David Blackledge did in Iraq.

It takes as much bravery to do what he did when he got home.

Blackledge got psychiatric counseling to deal with wartime trauma, and now is defying the military's culture of silence on the subject of mental health problems and treatment.

"It's part of our profession. ... Nobody wants to admit that they've got a weakness in this area," Blackledge said about mental health problems among troops who return from America's two wars.

"I have dealt with it. I'm dealing with it now," said Blackledge, who came home with post-traumatic stress. "We need to be able to talk about it."

As the United States marks another Veterans Day on Tuesday, thousands of troops continue coming home with anxiety, depression and other emotional problems.

Up to 20 percent of the more than 1.7 million who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to have symptoms. In a sign of how tough it may be to change attitudes, roughly half those who need help are not seeking it, studies have found.


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