Research Urged to Help Iraq, Afghanistan War Vets Readjust

Institute of Medicine preliminary assessment spotlights mental health and TBI needs
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs urgently need to conduct research on how to help veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their families readjust to post-deployment life and cope with mental health problems, as well as improve the management of traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan, a preliminary assessment of veterans' needs by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

George W. Rutherford, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues on the Committee on the Initial Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans, and Their Families, based their findings on a review of the literature on returning veterans, media reports, and testimony at town hall meetings. A second report will incorporate comprehensive findings from ongoing studies.

The committee issued policy and research recommendations to address gaps in the research on veterans' readjustment; develop protocols for the long-term management of TBI; determine the need for mental health professionals to treat veterans and their families; reduce the stigma and encourage mental health and substance-abuse treatment; evaluate the need for tailored mental health support for women and minorities; consider a program in which veterans would decompress at an interim location before returning home; and improve coordination among current veterans' programs.

"[The U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs] deserve credit for what they have done thus far to respond to the readjustment needs of individuals who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, but in some instances the response has fallen short," Rutherford said in a statement.

Press Release
Online Text of Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan

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