A Third of Iraq Vets Seek Mental Health Services - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

A Third of Iraq Vets Seek Mental Health Services

For US troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the mental effects of combat can be hard to handle.

A new study is trying to find out if these service members are getting the help they need. News on 6 anchor Tami Marler says War, it goes against everything American men and women are taught.

"The way that you feel about things, the safety of the world is shattered. So when you come home it's difficult to convey that to your children or to your friends, who didn't go over there and didn't see the things that you saw." Alyssa Rippey is doing doctoral work with Dr. Tom Hoffmann and Tulsa's Veterans Administration office. They specialize in post-traumatic-stress-disorder.

"I came back messed up on drugs, alcohol. It was hard to get back into society. Yes, it was very hard." Charles Thomson is one of many veterans who take advantage of VA mental health services. He served in a different war, but experienced many of the same problems getting back into society as those who serve in Iraq. "And I wanted to be a good soldier, but when I came back it just wasn't that way. It was crazy here."

As with Thomson, the images of war stay with many soldiers returning from Iraq, along with symptoms of post traumatic stress, which often shows up as depression, alcohol or drug abuse. "A lot of times with post traumatic stress disorder, you think that it's everybody else. I don't have a problem. Everyone else has the problem. Eventually you start to figure out, no, it must be me." Dr. Hoffmann leads a PTSD therapy group, just one of many ways the VA is reaching out to troops who can't shake the images of war.

A new national study shows a third of the troops returning from Iraq are seeking mental health services. "That would be my concern for the Iraqi vets coming back now. They may think well it's just me. They tried to be good soldiers, they don't want to hurt anything; they're concerned with their careers, so they kind of keep it under wraps."

The silver lining for vets like Thomson, there is help. "I'm lucky to be in the United States where I can get this."

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says more than half of the troops referred for mental health reasons did receive follow-up care.

In Tulsa, soldiers can seek mental health assistance by calling the VA clinic at 764-7243.
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