Prior to the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan,wars and conflicts have been characterized by such injuries as infectiousdiseases and catastrophic gunshot wounds. However, the signature injuriessustained by United States military personnel in these most recent conflictsare blast wounds and the psychiatric consequences to combat, particularlyposttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects an estimated 13 to 20percent of U.S. service members who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan since2001. PTSD is triggered by a specific traumatic event - including combat -which leads to symptoms such as persistent re-experiencing of the event;emotional numbing or avoidance of thoughts, feelings, conversations, or placesassociated with the trauma; and hyperarousal, such as exaggerated startleresponses or difficulty concentrating.
As the U.S. reduces its military involvement in the Middle East, theDepartments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) anticipate thatincreasing numbers of returning veterans will need PTSD services. As a result,Congress asked the DoD, in consultation with the VA, to sponsor an IOM study toassess both departments' PTSD treatment programs and services. Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder inMilitary and Veteran Populations: Initial Assessment is the firstof two mandated reports examines some of the available programs to prevent,diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate those who have PTSD and encourages furtherresearch that can help to improve PTSD care (Authors).