Research & Studies
A Related FRONTLINE Program
The Soldier's Heart
Back in 2005, when the Iraq war's psychological toll on troops was slowly starting to be recognized and addressed, FRONTLINE broadcast this one-hour film, which you can watch in full online. The Web site also has published what experts say
about PTSD, the obstacles in getting psychological help, and what families should know about the difficulties facing a returning soldier. The site also offers a number of additional readings and links
, including excerpts of war literature
dating back to the Civil War.
Casualties of War
A two-part July 2009 report by the Colorado Springs Gazette's Dave Philipps examining the rash of murders and violence in Colorado Springs by Fort-Carson based soldiers returning from Iraq. Part I, above, focuses on several cases, including the Kenneth Eastridge story, and explores Eastridge's role in the murder of Kevin Shields. It also features prison interviews with Eastridge.
Part II, "Warning signs," examines PTSD and other mental health problems facing Fort Carson's soldiers, and how the Army and nearby Colorado Springs community are working to address these issues.
The Fort Carson Murder Spree
L. Christopher Smith's investigation into the 2007 murder of Kevin Shields. (Rolling Stone, Nov. 12, 2009)
Coming Home: The Army's Fatal Neglect
Salon.com's investigation -- consisting of 19 stories and accompanying interviews, videos and documents -- explores the tragedy of soldiers committing suicide, and the allegations that the Army encourages staff to avoid diagnosing soldiers with PTSD. Salon's series also reports on Kenneth Eastridge's story. (February and April 2009)
The New Veteran
This special series from NPR explores a wide range of issues facing veterans of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some good places to start are an overview of the series, this piece on the difficulties disabled veterans face when seeking benefits, a profile of a special court in Minnesota that helps veterans suffering from mental health issues, and this interactive map that tracks veterans by state, gender, age, race and education level. Also read or listen to this in-depth interview with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. (May 2010)
After Combat, Victims of an Inner War
A New York Times article that examines the suicides of Iraq war veterans, focusing on Sgt. Jacob Blaylock, a member of the North Carolina National Guard who died in 2007. The piece looks at the complexities faced by veterans and families seeking mental health care, and questions whether Blaylock -- who had "tendencies toward depression and self-destructive behavior" -- should have been deployed in the first place. (Aug. 2, 2009)
Feeling Warehoused in Army Trauma Care Units
A New York Times examination of Warrior Transition Units that were created in 2007 to be "sheltering way stations for injured soldiers to recuperate" and either return to duty or leave the military. The Times found that the units at Fort Carson have "become warehouses of despair" where soldiers are prescribed large amounts of prescription drugs and treated poorly, leaving them "particularly vulnerable to depression and addiction." (April 24, 2010)
On April 27, Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker issued a statement maintaining that the Times piece is "'wholly unrepresentative of the totality and the context of what we've done for warrior care'" and that "about 90 percent of wounded soldiers recovering at Fort Carson, Colo. … are satisfied with their warrior transition unit."
The Last Tour
A New Yorker article profiling Travis Twiggs, a well-regarded Iraq veteran with PTSD who, on May 14, 2008, killed himself and his brother after a high-speed police chase near the Grand Canyon. (Sept. 29, 2008)
War Veterans' Concussions Are Often Overlooked
A good overview of the "growing tide of combat veterans who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with mild traumatic brain injuries [TBI] … caused by powerful explosions." The article explains the definition of traumatic brain injury, the extent to which soldiers are affected, and some of the controversies surrounding the injury and its diagnosis. (The New York Times, Aug. 26, 2008)
What it's like to live with severe TBI is recounted in this May 2008 Times profile of Sgt. Shurvon Phillips, who survived an anti-tank mine explosion in Iraq's Anbar Province.
America's Medicated Army
Time magazine reports on the increased use of prescription medications among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically focusing on antidepressants and sleeping pills. (June 5, 2008)
Research and Studies
Investigation of Homicides at Fort Carson, Colorado [PDF]
This 2008-09 epidemiological study [EPICON report] was conducted by a task force of behavioral health and Army professionals looking for commonalities in the high rate of murder and violence among Fort Carson soldiers. Some key findings: Combat intensity affected the intensity of mental health symptoms that the soldiers showed; there's a reluctance for soldiers to seek counseling; time between rotations is too short for them to restore themselves and get ready to return to combat; support services aren't coordinated at Ft. Carson. (July 2009)
U.S. Army Medical Department Mental Health Reports
Read the yearly reports conducted by psychologists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. These reports track screening, soldier morale, drug and alcohol use, and the ability of soldiers to find mental heath care.
Invisible Wounds of War Study
This extended series of reports by the RAND Health and the RAND National Security Research Division explores psychological and cognitive injuries and offers tips for both veterans and their families.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Task Force Report
The Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force was created in 2006 by the Army Surgeon General and given the charge to "establish a clear picture of the processes and research involved with the prevention, identification, assessment, treatment, rehabilitation, family support, and transition to civilian life of Service Members with TBI." Their January 2008 full report is here (PDF).