Coping with mental illness in the military

Programs to help U.S. servicemen and women suffering from mental challenges, including post-traumatic stress disorder, have been around for decades. Clearly, more effort needs to be put into them.

After Army Spc. Ivan Lopez shot and killed three people and wounded 16 others before killing himself at Fort Hood, Texas, last week, the media focused again on mental illness in the military. Lopez was being treated for mental illness.

But most service members coping with psychological challenges are no threat to others. Instead, some take their own lives. We owe it to them to find better ways of surviving confrontations with their mental demons.

Nearly one in every five men and women who enlist in the military suffers from common mental illnesses such as depression before they sign up. The stress of service can aggravate those challenges.

More needs to be done to help servicemen and women who become threats to themselves and others. The Pentagon should make that a top priority.


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