Watch soldiers talk about methods of relieving combat stress as part of the Real Warriors campaign to combat the stigma associated with seeking psychological health care.
Military service can take a toll on active-duty service members because perceived stigma against seeking care for mental illness is very common. A report from the American Psychological Association, The Military's War on Stigma, details service members' fears of jeopardizing their careers by seeking treatment for mental illness—and the military's campaign to allay these fears. A survey of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan found a correlation between PTSD symptoms and exposure to combat experiences. Yet of those whose responses met the criteria for diagnosis, only 38 to 45 percent expressed an interest in receiving help.
Mental health issues have a great impact on military operations. Pentagon data from 2009 shows that troops were hospitalized for mental health disorders more than any other reason. An examination of mental disorders among troops in the 1990s discovered that mental health hospitalizations had a significant effect upon service members' ability to complete their assignments—nearly 50 percent of personnel hospitalized for the first time for a mental disorder left military service within six months, compared with only 12 percent of those hospitalized for other reasons. In July 2010, the active-duty suicide rate was at a troubling 22 per 100,000 in the Army and 24 per 100,000 in the Marine Corps, compared to 18 per 100,000 among the general population.
According to a Pentagon report covered by The New York Times, some of the Army's suicide cases may be due to substance abuse. A 2007 survey of entry-level military personnel revealed that 26 percent had a history of substance abuse and nearly 16 percent reported current depressive symptoms that were moderate to severe. Others point to reports that people displaying symptoms of mental illnesses such as PTSD are being redeployed.
In 2009, Salon.com published the story of a patient named "Sgt. X" who recorded an Army psychologist saying that he was under pressure not to diagnose combat veterans with PTSD. The news came at a time when the military had already begun taking steps to address mental health issues, making suicide prevention a top priority. Different branches of the military have created hotlines and other resources for service members who are in crisis. The Army convened a seminar about suicide and the stigma around mental illness and some other suicide hotlines appear below or on our Suicide Prevention page.See the resources for active-duty service members and their families below.
Deployment Health Clinical Center
The Deployment Health Clinical Center website offers a list of resources for service members and their families and a link to the Department of Defense Mental Health Self-assessment Program (alcohol and mental health screening).
A Military OneSource consultant can provide a brief assessment and referral to mental health professionals across the country for six free counseling sessions.
Department of Defense
Deployment helpline at Walter Reed Medical Center: (800) 796-9699
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's 24 hour toll-free crisis hotline (800) 273-TALK (8255)
Witness Justice for Survivors of Traumatic Events
Information to help survivors and their friends and family: (800) 495-4957
Army Community Service Center
MyArmyOneSource offers information and articles on various topics, such as home and personal safety, managing deployment and money management.
National Military Family Association
The National Military Family Association educates military families about their rights and benefits. Their main programs are Spouse Scholarships (awarded to spouses to obtain professional certification or attend post-secondary or graduate school) and Operation Purple Camps (summer camps for military children).
Army Family Readiness Group
Family members can check their unit's website for up-to-date information and information about other families in the unit.
Marine Corps Community Services
Find support programs, including deployment, relocation and transition.
Army Families Online
Army Families Online staffs the Army Information Line from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. They offer information and referral services for Army soldiers, civilians, retirees, veterans and families and address all issues and concerns. For mental health services, they refer to OneSource or for active-duty soldiers, they can connect them to their chaplain or someone in their chain of command.
Army Reserve Family Programs
The Army Reserve Family Programs offers homecoming and reunion resources, including tips and links to resources.
Citizen Soldiers Support Program
Citizen Soldiers Support Programs works with local community agencies and organizations to address needs of Citizen Soldiers (including members of the National Guard and Reservists) and their families.
National Guard Family Programs
The National Guard Family Programs offer information about programs, benefits and resources, including family, youth and community outreach initiatives.
Military Spouse Resource Center
The Military Spouse Resource Center provides information and resources to spouses of military personnel related to education, training and employment within the U.S. They also have a section on relocation resources.
Military Family Network
Their mission is to support military families and increase their readiness and well-being by connecting them with their communities and the organizations that provide the best service and value.
Zero to Three Military Families
Zero to Three is a nonprofit multidisciplinary organization dedicated to supporting the healthy development of infants and toddlers.
National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
NACCRRA works with the Department of Defense to help those who serve in the military find and afford child care that suits their unique needs. For help finding a child care provider, contact Child Care Aware at (800) 424-2246 or at childcareaware.org. To reach the Military Subsidy department, call the number listed above.
Marineparents.com offers resources for parents, spouses, family and friends of Marines. They help connect families to each other via e-mail, chat rooms and message boards.
Your Soldier Your Army: A Parent’s Guide
This guide, written by an Army wife and mother, gives tips for surviving deployment, homecomings, goodbyes and other stresses.