WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 A new, in-depth investigative reportreleased by Veterans for America, documents the toll of repeated, lengthy, andunpredictable deployments on Soldiers stationed at Fort Drum, New York,raising powerful questions about the sustainability of U.S. militaryoperations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the past decade, Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division has been one ofthe Army's most heavily deployed divisions. Since September 11, 2001, FortDrum's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) is the most deployed brigade in the Army- with more than 40 months logged away from home in that time.
VFA's new report highlights the lack of treatment available to combatSoldiers and presents potential solutions to what the Pentagon acknowledges isa "daunting and growing" problem.
"Sooner or later, and likely sooner, we're going to hit the wall andsomething will have to change," said Bobby Muller, VFA's founder. "Simplemorality and decency demand a change. We cannot continue taking such grossadvantage of those who have offered themselves in service to our country."
On their latest Iraq tour, members of the 2nd BCT were more than fivetimes as likely to have been killed than others who have been deployed to Iraqand Afghanistan and more than four times as likely to have been wounded. Inall, the 2nd BCT has been deployed four times. Pentagon studies have foundthat a Soldier's chance of developing mental health problems increases 60percent upon each deployment.
"Soldiers at Fort Drum have been repeatedly exposed to high intensitycombat. Mental health resources must match this level of sacrifice," saidJason W. Forrester, one of the report authors.
Multiple Soldiers at Fort Drum informed VFA of low morale on base andrising DUI and AWOL rates. Even when Soldiers had the courage to seek mentalhealth treatment, they often waited as long as two months for appointmentswith on-base mental health professionals.
As discussed in the previous Veterans for America report - Trends inTreatment of America's Wounded Warriors - VFA has visited every major militaryfacility in and out of the United States. Our work has revealed a militarymental health system that is under severe stress. VFA's work at Fort Drum,unfortunately, confirms this.
SOURCE Veterans for America