“This marks a huge milestone in our journey to really eliminate stigma, that barrier that keeps … soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coastees, the Guard, the Reserve, veterans and their families from getting the help that they need. ” - Col. Loree Sutton
Thousands of troops are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with war-related anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. Many hesitate to get psychiatric care because they fear that could cost them their security clearances, harm their careers and embarrass them before commanders and comrades.
To address this problem, the Pentagon announced that military employees will no longer be required to disclose mental health treatment when applying for government jobs unless it was court-ordered or involved violence.
A question on the application for security clearances - what Gates called “the infamous Question 21” - has long asked whether applicants consulted a mental health professional in the past seven years. If so, they are asked to list the names, addresses and dates they saw the doctor or therapist.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally reached out “to every man and woman in uniform to let them know about this change, to let them know the efforts that are underway to remove the stigma, and to encourage them to seek help when they are in the theater or when they return from the theater.”
Secretary Gates’ announcement, as well as military experts’ insight into this situation, is shown in this video report.
The issue of mental health is a relevant and useful topic for adolescents. You might start by exploring one of the main points made in this video: Why are so many service personnel hesitant to seek mental health counseling? For that matter, why is so much of the general public hesitant as well? Why was this policy change made now, and will it change the culture of ignoring or hiding mental health issues?
Below are some web resources related to this story
New Policy Urges Soldiers to Seek Mental Health Care
War Vets Suffer Intensified Mental Distress Over Time, Study Finds
Forum: Soldiers Face Stresses of War
Soldiers from Iraq, Afghanistan Cope with Combat Stress
Stress Disorders Plague U.S. Troops Returning From Iraq
Veterans Report High Rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Defense Center of Excellence For Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury
NIMH: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Associated Press: Pentagon plans national mental health campaign
Stars and Stripes: Study: Spouses also reluctant to seek mental health help
Marine Corps Times: Bill would expand PTSD benefits
Veterans for America