It's no secret that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the greatest health issues facing servicemembers and their families. Now, after more than a decade of war has thrust the mental health struggles of soldiers into the spotlight, a leading medical group recommends annual testing for returning troops, according to The Associated Press.
The suggestion comes from The Institute of Medicine (IOM), which analyzed the resources and treatment methods in place to address PTSD, which affects an estimated 20 percent of all soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Though strides have been made over the last several years to help these individuals, the organization says there is still work to be done. Specifically, the institute says not enough soldiers are receiving treatment, and even if they do they're not tracked to see how their condition improves.
"[But] treatment isn't reaching everyone who needs it, and the departments aren't tracking which treatments are being used or evaluating how well they work in the long term," Sandro Galea, the chairman of the IOM panel, told the AP. "In addition, DoD has no information on the effectiveness of its programs to prevent PTSD."
Aside from suggesting follow-up treatment, the IOM also had some other recommendations. In particular, it said there should be more research conducted on topics such as defense mechanisms for stress and early warning signs.