Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Combat, comfortably numb

"OK, just a little pinprick... there'll be no more, but you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up? I do believe it's working -- good!  
That'll keep you going for the show... c'mon, it's time to go..."
- Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb"
"We have never medicated our troops to the extent we are doing now. ... And I don't believe the current increase in suicides and homicides in the military is a coincidence," said Bart Billings, a former military psychologist.

With most soldiers serving multiple deployments, creating growing levels of combat stress, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, amphetamines, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, according to figures from the U.S. Army surgeon general, the L.A. Times reported. This is a total reversal in military policy. "Prior to the Iraq war, soldiers could not go into combat on psychiatric drugs, period. Not very long ago, going back maybe 10 or 12 years, you couldn't even go into the armed services if you used any of these drugs, in particular stimulants," Peter Breggin, a New York psychiatrist, told the paper.
The ghosts of the past decade will be with our nation, in more ways than one, for a long, long time.

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